Nic Fleming, contributor
Facebook and MySpace are failing to protect children from paedophiles and bullies, a former senior police officer says.
The social networking sites have refused to embed a “report button” that would allow users to report abuse. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has devised the free “abuse button” that would link children and teenagers to advice and put them in contact with counsellors and law enforcement officers.Jim Gamble, head of the CEOP, said his team has long tried to persuade popular sites to adopt the tool. He dismissed the technical difficulties raised by some sites including Facebook and MySpace as “red herrings“.
Bebo announced yesterday that it would be using the button.
According to the CEOP, 5000 investigations have been initiated because of information received from those using the button, leading to 800 arrests in the past three years.
Facebook hit back at the criticism, telling the BBC that it had previously tested similar systems. It said that such systems had been shown to be ineffective and actually reduced the reporting of abuse, and that as an international site it preferred to have its own global system.
Facebook attracted widespread criticism and was forced into a U-turn earlier this year when it quietly changed its terms and conditions to allow it sell or share users’ data once they had closed their accounts.
I really do think that such largely used social web websites should embed protection tools! However, I do also think that we need to educate kids to use such “abuse report buttons”, in a reasonable and decent way, otherwise they will not be able to protect themselves and might even misuse them to bully other kids/adults.
Tools are tools and can always be used in favour or in disfavour of people! So we will always need education to learn to use them wisely…