Bethel student accidentally ends up on porn website while using school Chromebook

The student was on the forums of Duolingo, a language learning app, when she clicked on a disguised link. The app has been blocked from Bethel devices.

Posted: Apr 9, 2021 7:25 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A 10-year-old student at Irving Elementary School was trying to learn Spanish on the Chromebook provided to her by the Bethel School District when she accidentally ended up on a pornographic website.

This triggered an alert email to the school principal stating that the student's Chromebook had accessed an inappropriate website, a spokesperson for the district said.

The student's father, Michael Weber, said he received a phone call from the district the next day notifying him about the incident.

"Our first reaction was just being embarrassed," Weber said. "As a parent you're like, wow, this has happened. We need to take care of this."

According to Weber, his daughter clicked a link posted on the forums section of the language learning app Duolingo. Weber said he immediately looked into the app to find out how this happened.

"If you were in the forums or better put, chat rooms, people spammed those chat rooms with links to pornographic dating sites," Weber said. "The links are shortened so there are no words to alert you that you might be clicking on something that's not acceptable."

When Weber realized the link was still accessible through the Duolingo app, he said he contacted the school's principal. 

The principal then contacted the district's technology department to further investigate the issue, a spokesperson for the Bethel School District said.

"A quick search indicated this has been an issue with the Duolingo site for the last few years, so our tech department quickly decided to block it on all the district’s student Chromebooks," district officials said in a statement. "All this took place pretty quickly, around an hour or so from the first notification."

Weber said he is happy with how quickly the district responded to his concerns regarding the Duolingo app.

"We would really like to put a shoutout to the Bethel School District for immediately taking action on this," Weber said. "They were very great about this and made sure this app wasn't available so that kids could be exposed to this."

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