Jordan Demay’s Legacy: Protecting Kids

Jordan’s mother, Jennifer Buta, is pressing federal law makers to pass a bill that would increase online protections for kids
Jennifer Buta, Jordan DeMay's mother is working to create safeguards for minors online urging federal lawmakers to pass the Kids Online Safety Bill
Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 7:48 AM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - Sextortion. It’s a crime we’ve learned so much about in the last year after Marquette teen Jordan DeMay, caught in a scam, died by suicide.

Investigators are calling it a landmark case as three Nigerian men are now awaiting extradition to the United States on charges related to the sextortion of Jordan DeMay. Catching these predators is rare - they’re typically overseas - creating a challenging web of jurisdictions, red tape, and a complex cyber trail. But in Jordan’s case, local law enforcement did it right, credited with quickly tracking down IP addresses and information vital in learning the location and names of the three men charged.

On what would have been Jordan’s 19th birthday, TV6′s Elizabeth Peterson sat down with Jennifer Buta, his mother, who is working to make sure what happened to Jordan last year doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Jordan is remembered by his family and friends as being kind, social, a friend to everyone, a devoted brother and son - the kind of person who was just always there for you.

It’s been over a year since Jordan died by suicide after falling victim to sextortion, his mom, Jennifer Buta is still in a bit of shock as to what happened.

Elizabeth: “Had you had any idea that these conversations were happening? That he has involved in anything like this?”

J: “No, no, no.”

It’s a pain Jennifer wants to prevent other families from ever feeling.

Jordan’s story has changed the conversation around social media, but her work is just beginning.

Jennifer said, “Right now, social media companies have no liability for anything that happens on their social media platforms, there’s no safety, security features in place for minors.”

And after what happened to Jordan, Jennifer is adamant about changing that. She’s been talking with federal lawmakers garnering support for the Kids Online Safety Act.

“This bill would provide safety features for minors, it would eliminate target advertising to minors, it will give parent notifications of what their children are doing online and also hold social media companies responsible for things that are happening on their platforms,” said Jennifer.

Exactly how would it do this?

It would require social media companies to enable the strongest safeguards as the default. Protecting minor’s information, limiting who can contact a minor’s profile, restrict location gathering, and provide parents tools and reports to supervise activity.

The bi-partisan bill was first introduced in 2022 and has just recently received support from Michigan US Senator Gary Peters. A promising step to getting the legislation passed.

Senator Peters said, “Unfortunately, with social media companies, the way they make their money is to get people very engaged and to stay on social media as long as they possibly can and then provide material that sometimes is destructive so that’s why it’s important for us to put some guardrails around social media.”

Senator Peters says one of the priorities is to make sure these companies aren’t just focused on making money but on the safety on of their users. He says he’s heard from families across Michigan, including Jordan’s mom and it’s time for action and this bill, he says, is a good place to start.

“This legislation will allow parents for example a way to kind of monitor what is happening on a social media platform, what their children are actually seeing, what their engaged, also we’ll but some warning of new individuals on a platform that are not a friend, or an acquaintance but my be a person that has some harmful intent,” said Senator Peters.

The bill has also received support from hundreds of advocacy and technology groups. It has the support; it has our kids at the center, and like Senator Peter’s said Jennifer agrees, it’s a start.

Jennifer added, “I think it’s really great that we have these groups behind it, it’s not everything that I would like to see happen in a reform of social media, but it’s a really great step forward to start making those changes.”

And for Jennifer, it’s a way to make sure what happened to Jordan means something.

“In the most tragic of situations,” added Jennifer, “Jordan’s life is saving lives.”