Late last week Nintendo unceremoniously pulled the plug on their SwapNote service for the 3DS. At the time, the company would only say that some users had “actively misused” the photo and message sharing software to distribute “offensive material.” According to multiple reports from Japan, we now know that the images transmitted over the 3DS were related to child pornography cases.
The full extent of the abuse of the SwapNote service is not yet known, however, it appears that there are at least two unrelated investigations involving child predators. The first case comes from the Japanese newspaper Mainichi, which reports that a 44-year-old man has been charged for possession of child pornography after allegedly receiving nude photos from two girls (ages 11 and 12). According to the report, the man has confessed to the crime.
In a second unrelated case, news outlet Yomiuri Online is reporting that two men (ages 49 and 36) have been arrested and charged with performing “improper acts” earlier this year with the same 12-year-old girl. The reports states that the 12-year-old had used her 3DS to access an online dating site, which is where the two men allegedly met her.
Given Nintendo’s history of being extremely (almost overly) cautious when it comes to online, I was initially skeptical of just how bad the “offensive material” was that resulted in the SwapNote shutdown. Now that these reports have surfaced, the action taken by Nintendo seems completely reasonable and I applaud them for the decisive action.