My Child Contacted Me on Social Media

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  • Updated 4 years ago
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URGENT MESSAGE!!!
My sponsored child (MELAT HAILU - from ETHIOPIA - sponsored by me for a minimum of 4 years) appears to have contacted me through Facebook and I am suspicious of this. It says she logged on via a Nokia Phone on May 6, 2014 for the first time. She claims she is my sponsored child and she needs help. My sponsored child, Melat Hailu has NEVER mentioned having internet, NEVER mentioned having a cell phone, NEVER mentioned needing additional help outside of what is sponsor monthly plus birthday and Christmas. I would like this looked into to confirm that my sponsored child NOW has a CELL PHONE and is using it to contact me through Facebook! I do not have a way to contact this young lady fast enough to see if it is REALLY her. I'm concerned someone has broken into the Compassion Data Base and is using my sponsor information and my sponsored child's information as some sort of sick joke.
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Ruann Wood

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Posted 6 years ago

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Susan

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Official Response
Ruan,

I'm so sorry for frightening experience!

It is very common for children in our programs to have access to internet. Many places in the developing world have what is called an "Internet Cafe" where people can pay to use the internet on a computer for pennies per minute. It is also very common for people in the developing world to have cell phones. The phones that they use are not iphones but are cheap versions of phones that we maybe used ten years ago. In most parts of the world, you sign up for use of a phone by the minute and you do not have to sign a contract. This means that people can pay a dollar or less and have access to phone calls, text, and even the internet on their phone for a time. 

All of your information is secured at our USA office. We take information security very seriously. That is one reason why we handle all child letters directly. These letters are sent to our USA office and then on to our office in Ethiopia. Even our staff in our field offices do not have access to your personal contact information. 

Your child is told your name only. She may be aware of the city or state that you live in if you told her this kind of information in your letters. Regrettably, with just your name and where you live, it is quite easy to find you on Facebook. That is most likely what she or whoever contacted you did. 

Most likely your child was simply curious and wanted to know more about who was generously sponsoring her. However, as the world becomes more and more digital, we have asked all of our children to not contact their sponsors directly on social media. Compassion takes your information and privacy very seriously and we want to protect you as a sponsor. We cannot protect you when we are not involved in the child/sponsor communication process.

I would recommend ignoring that friend request or private message and maybe consider changing your privacy settings on your Facebook page. We will take this opportunity to remind your child of our program guidelines. To read more about our policy on this and the reasoning behind it, feel free to read our blog post on the subject. 
(Edited)