Facebook faces challenge from sex predators

Facebook faces challenge from sex predators

Summary: MySpace isn't the only social networking site to come under fire as a haven of sex offenders, reports Reuters. Facebook is facing a similar crisis, as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal claimed "at least three" convicted sex offenders hang out on Facebook site -- and that may just be the "tip of the iceberg.


MySpace isn't the only social networking site to come under fire as a haven of sex offenders, reports Reuters. Facebook is facing a similar crisis, as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal claimed "at least three" convicted sex offenders hang out on Facebook site -- and that may just be the "tip of the iceberg."

"These individuals are using their real names after convictions for felony sexual offenses," Blumenthal told Reuters. "There may be thousands or hundreds of thousands using aliases or false identities who have never been convicted."

Chief Privacy Officer Chris Kelly said Facebook's privacy features separate it from other services. In particular, Facebook protects users under 18 by preventing adults from contacting them if the adults are not affiliated with a specific school network, Kelly said.

While admitting a few predators are on the network, it is far from the "hundreds of thousands" that Blumenthal posits.

"There is a non-zero number. We have been able to handle abuses with the accountability of having a real-name culture versus a 'screen-name' culture," he said. "There is no city in existence, let alone one that has 33 million citizens, that doesn't have occasional crime," Kelly said. "The question is: Does the site make it easier or harder to commit crimes and what does it do to address them?"

The fact that MySpace never did age-based segmentation has caused a lot of their problems. MySpace recently said they had deleted 29,000 sex offenders from the site with technology from Sentinel.

"It's when adults and kids play in the same space that things get sticky and the effectiveness of age verification seems to go out the window," Sentinel CEO and founder John Cardillo said of the dilemma facing social networks.

Facebook is also looking at outside consultants to provide further protection from predators.

"It is better to have some sort of verification on the front end and various forms of behavioral verification on the back end," Kelly said of Facebook's approach to site safety.

Topics: Government US, Social Enterprise

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  • This comes as abolutely no surprise at all

    And MySpace's lack of age segmentation is something that should be hammered home to the little girls who think it's de rigeur to pose pouting at the camera in various states of undress and think nothing of it (especially those who send random friend requests with pictures of them in that state, I'm knocking on 30, I don't want to be friends with a semi-clad teen who's half my age thank you very much)

    Perhaps an introduction to the word 'camwhore' with directions towards encyclopediadramatica.com and urbandictionary.com for ideas on what their peers may think of them.
    • Great start

      A great start... and yet I repeat myself...
      What in the hell were they doing dumping ALL those profiles? What are the legalities of such actions? Were they all Predators? So they have dumped EVERYONE that has a sex offense? No matter what the charge, the age of the charge or the legitimacy of the person upon Myspace? Couldn't they have just "Tagged" us with a symbol or mark? Both my Wife and I were on there... My Myspace page was straight, for my web business, and contact with my Son, Sister, and Nieces. I think that this shall in time become a bit of a controversy... and thanks for the notice Myspace... NOT.
      So a Sex offender Equals a predator to them eh? What about the Teenager that mooned his principle? or the 12year old that was charged for kissing a girl on the playground?
      Are they total doped or what? 29,000? These were people that actually used their real name, age and info? What about the other XX,000 that are NOT using there real information?
      So just where in the hell are we going to go if like MySpace Chief Security Officer Hemanshu Nigam said in his statement "We're pleased that we've successfully identified and removed registered sex offenders from our site and hope that other social networking sites follow our lead," MyOffender.com? isn't this a bit judgmental?
      What next, throw my kids off of neopets, trolz, and nickjr because Dad signed them up and he?s an offender? How about My IMVU account, Second life, vamirerave and vampirefreaks? will nothing be sacred until ultimately there is no place left to go?
      Thats why I as a sex offender advocate the use of biomedical RFID implants for offenders. So we can actually live unharassed by over zealous goons.
      In the language used in a good number of the news articles and such,(have been out researching again) few making any differentiations between "Sex Offenders" and a Sexual Predator" Here is a great example of a piece that has a Corporate spin feel to me:
      Not only does it feel like a self vindicating piece, this is a blog I cannot even comment on nor post to in order to promote my views on the true need for nationwide RFID chipping of offenders (And that includes my self) WITHOUT being a member of myspace... .. Free speech? MY ARSE! Not at myspace anyways lol.
      Ah the net just isn't what it used to be..
      Highest Regards
  • Deletion is the WRONG action

    I said it when MySpace deleted their accounts, and I'll say it again; Seems to me that the Feds should have just told the company to keep all the known sex offenders there where they can easily watch their activity. Instead, these nitwits dump them and force them all underground where they can start again and nobody will know who they are.

    And those were the registered ones. I'd venture a guess, probably lowball, that that only represents 10% of the total sex offenders using these social network sites. You see, if you'd kept the known sex offenders on, and watched who they corresponded with, you'd be able to add to the list of potential sex offenders to investigate.

    What would be more interesting, and possibly more effective, is to put a flag up on every sexual predator's name that would not be visible on their account, but could be seen by everyone else. Something like a big, scarlet "SP" (as opposed to a big scarlet "A". Trouble is, I know too many teenagers who'd love to skirt how close they can tease the bull before it charges them.

    Finally, looking at the way the laws are worded, most of us would be classified as sexual offenders, including most of the people screaming the loudest to lock the convicts up (or worse). Hmmm, compensatory behavior for buried feelings of guilt maybe?

    Facebook, et. al. aren't the ones to blame.

    1. There is a difference between a sexual offender and a sexual predator. Offenders have broken some law. Laws are imperfect, and many of the blue (sex) laws are provincial and reflective of a prudish or repressive local culture with no evidence-based reason for those laws other than, "Preacher tells us it's un-Godly!" Sexual Predators are the ones into self-gratification at all costs. They do not care about the effect of their actions on others. The predators are sick, or evil people who need to be locked away, or destroyed.

    2. There aren't any more predators out there than there used to be. It's just that we are catching more of them. This is a good thing, not bad.

    3. FaceBook, MySpace and other social networking systems may be a vehicle for predators to contact victims; but it also, in combination with user's PCs, makes a great investigation tool for actually catching and convicting these monsters. This is a mixed blessing.

    4. I would absolutely charge, and convict, every one of the parents of these victimized children with neglect. They can control their children's access to the internet. They can monitor their children's access to the internet. They have FAILED to do so and are tacitly accepting the consequences to their children.

    There is no difference between a child being allowed unsupervised access to the internet and allowing them to have an unsupervised social activity at school, or going down to the old barn for a dance and being dragged off into the hay by someone. The parent is the irresponsible one in both cases.