Move over Wikipedophilia, Facebook is in the house

It should come as no surprise that Facebook is now in the world-wide spotlight for harboring and tolerating child pornography and online child exploitation. Of a recent rash of articles about the popular site (none of them by the U.S. media), the following is the most serious:

Facebook fails to alert police on child porn from The Age (Australia)

The management of Facebook repeatedly failed to reveal the activity of an international child pornography syndicate operating on the social networking site and ignored continuing admissions by one of the ring’s Australian members.

The failure was uncovered during an Australian Federal Police-led international investigation of the syndicate, which had operated via fake identities on the site.

”We are aware that Facebook knew of the existence of these pages and even went so far as to remove the profiles,” said the director of the AFP High Tech Crime Centre, Neil Gaughan.

But despite closing down the men’s pages after finding illegal material, Facebook did not contact police, Mr Gaughan said.

”Facebook deactivated the online accounts of the initial suspects but there were indications that, within hours, the groups were re-forming again under new accounts,” he said.

After federal police arrested one of the Australian men, he stunned them by describing how he had sent up to 10 messages to Facebook, but the company failed to pass on the information to police.

Federal officers contacted a Facebook official in Australia to convey their concerns, and were told that he would relay their concerns ”to the boss”. But the AFP received no reply.

This failure by Facebook highlights our concern about the policy and practice in the United States that electronic communication services register exclusively with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline. According to NCMEC’s website “there is a federal law, 18 U.S.C. §2258A which requires ESPs to report apparent child pornography to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline.” In the past, ECS’s like News Corporation have been big donors to NCMEC.

I will state again what I said just last month: “As advocates for victims of child pornography, we have long believed, and continue to believe, that the detection, investigation and prosecution of child pornography offenses is solely a government responsibility. No private organization or entity, no matter how well-meaning or well-funded, should have any official or unofficial role in this essential governmental mission.”

Returning to Facebook, there’s much more of interest in the international news:

Mothers’ group outraged after their Facebook campaign to expose paedophiles is removed from the internet from the Daily Mail (U.K.)

Six mothers who set up a campaign group on Facebook to track down and expose online paedophiles have been given a warning and had their page removed from the internet.

Leanne Moss, 33, set up the Mommies on a Mission group after claiming she stumbled across Facebook profile pages featuring images of child abuse.

The mother-of-four said she created the campaign page to ensure the offensive profiles were reported.

But the group, which attracted more than 300 people in two days, was later removed by Facebook, who sent Mrs Moss a message saying the content violated their terms of use.

Finally, there’s this story out of Canada:

Charges against B.C. teacher linked to global child-porn network from Postmedia news (Canada)

One of the men arrested in Canada in relation to an international online child-exploitation network that used Facebook is a former Vancouver private school teacher, police say.

With the movie about Facebook just hitting the theaters, these articles might just be the perfect coda. Let the cameras roll!

1 Reply to "Move over Wikipedophilia, Facebook is in the house"

  • Stroller Dad
    September 10, 2010 (12:45 pm)

    It’s amazing to me that a site that has, what over 500 million users?, doesn’t take its role seriously when it comes to preventing child abuse. Any entity that is that popular with the public has to take that power seriously and exercise good judgment to protect the public.

    Heck, I run a few smaller websites on Double Strollers Reviews and you’d be surprised how much crazy stuff people try to post to my site in the comments section. Knowing full well that the site is dedicated to providing parenting tips and stroller reviews.

    If my site gets hit up by people pushing garbage I can only imagine what FB gets hit up with. I delete everything before it is ever able to propagate out of my site. Hopefully FB and other big sites get the resources together to take a better aim at this kind of criminal activity. Heaven knows they have to money – they should put it to use to protect their users and kids.