FACEBOOK-owned apps are used in over half of online grooming cases, alarming research shows.
And there was a ten per cent rise in kids being targeted on the net in lockdown, the NSPCC study found.
Between April and June, 1,220 criminal cases of online grooming were recorded.
Cops report that in 51 per cent of cases, the perverts used Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram — all owned by the US giant.
More than a third — 37 per cent — were on Instagram.
The children’s charity warned the figures were just the tip of the iceberg.
It urged Boris Johnson to bring forward tough new laws to hold social media bosses personally responsible for failures to keep kids safe online.
NSPCC chief exec Peter Wanless said: “The Prime Minister has the chance to turn the tide and put responsibility on firms to clean up the mess they created.”
The National Police Chiefs’ Council also backed the call.
The stats, supplied by police forces under freedom of information laws, show the 1,220 figure in the three months from April to June was ten per cent above the same period last year.
The NSPCC said the lockdown had created a “perfect storm” which perverts seized on.
Facebook said it stamps out grooming on its platforms.
A spokesman added: “Over 97 per cent of child exploitation content we remove is found and taken down before it’s reported to us.”
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