Sun's Facebook-slapping hits wrong target
Paedo-threat coverage risks more restrictions for all
Comment A series of negative stories about Facebook by The Sun newspaper could lead to yet more government intervention directing how individuals are allowed to interact with the internet.
The Sun has seen a host of anti-Facebook stories run over the last 12 months, paralleled by positive coverage of near-rival, MySpace.
Last week, under the heading "Disgracebook", The Sun reported the tragic story of Ashleigh Hall, aged 17, who allegedly met her end after meeting an individual she befriended through Facebook.
The Sun quoted Ashleigh’s mother, Andrea, as saying: "It is time somebody introduced controls which stop people putting up false information. The people who run Facebook have a responsibility."
This is then followed by an expert highlighting the problem of paedophiles creating false profiles on social networking sites, and reports that Facebook and Twitter are the only major social networking sites not members of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which they further claim "attempts to police the web and monitors content it considers dangerous."
Finally, they reference an earlier story claiming Twitter had refused to censor child porn on its site.
In a follow-up piece this week, The Sun reported that Facebook was now applying to join the IWF. Headlined "The Sun gets website to call in ‘net cops’", it is clear that The Sun is claiming a victory in this case.
Much of this appears to miss the point - but by sensationalising the story and linking it to solutions that do not apply, The Sun opens the way for populist political intervention.
An example of how this pressure may work lies with the campaign for "Sarah's Law" - a demand that parents of young children be allowed to know about the identity of paedophiles in their area. Whilst this campaign, spearheaded by the Sun's sister paper, the News of the World, has had limited success, it has without doubt contributed to political initiatives around data sharing in this area.
The IWF is not an internet police force. As they have made clear in countless interviews, their role in the UK is twofold. First, where they encounter certain categories of (mainly child abuse) material hosted on a UK site, they refer it to the appropriate authorities – usually the relevant police force - for further action.
Where material is hosted overseas and it potentially breaks UK law, they add the URL for the page containing that material to its block list, and then feed it out through the majority of UK ISP’s. The offending image is blocked irrespective of whether the site hosting it has "joined" the IWF.
The IWF role in respect of social networking sites is limited. They would be the first to admit that their success in removing indecent content from fixed URL’s has seen those with an interest in such material moving on to virtual networks or, even on to social networking sites such as Facebook.
The weird thing about the Sun & NotW
is the way they define themselves as a "family newspaper", and star out words like shit or wanker, yet love a bit of soft porn and report stories in the most lurid & titillating light they can.
I used to know a sub-editor on the Sun - a bigger hypocrite you will never meet. Just when he was at his most smug, they laid him off ha,ha.
Parental responsibility - a myth?
Unless I've slipped into a parallel universe I was under the impression that a parent is legally responsible for their child up until the age of 18 in the UK. Why, then, do we continue to hear from grieving families trying to lay blame elsewhere? I read the stories about that girl who met the guy who murdered her on Facebook and even though I despise Facebook I fail to see how any 17 year old would have hundreds of friends and knew every one of them. The mother said essentially that in what I read and that she had been told of the dangers and understood them. Clearly she didn't or she'd likely be alive today!
How stupid are some of these parents to think they're smarter than their kids by virtue of being parents and taking their kids' word for it? More importantly why are these irresponsible parents suffering the loss of their children allowed to make any kind of stand or propose any law? They're not thinking clearly, they want to blame someone for what's happened and take the easy route. Child met person on X site, it must be the fault of X site for not knowing everything about that person from their age, blood type, hair colour, body shape, last job, thoughts on eating meat ......
Give it a rest. I'm sorry, I have sympathy for her loss and others like her but that doesn't excuse her stupidity and trying to fix what is ultimately her failing to educate and keep track of her teenage daughter. Here's a big surprise (/sarcasm) - people who do bad things ANYWHERE lie about themselves and things they do. Treating everyone as though they are the same "for the sake of the children" is pathetic. Do a better job of looking after your kids and realise that fucked up people do fucked up things no matter where they are.
Is MySpace as bad or worse than FaceBook? Well there is this child on MySpace who is 16 years old yet has their age set at 18 allowing anyone to contact them, I contacted MySpace to let them know (cause it is against the MySpace rules to lie about being 18 and over...) and even though there were photos of her in her school uniform and such, they said "can't do a thing about it, so yeah, we'll let her continue".
The girl in question who was murdered, there was no parental responsibility there, none at all "she had 400 friends who she knows personally!" total crock of lies (wtf is a crock anyhow?) if she knew them all personally, she wouldn't have been murdered by a stranger from her friends list....
Big warning to you kids out there, if you *need* to lie to your parents about the fact you are going to meet someone from the internet, you are in D A N G E R, no if's, no but's, if you can't say to your parents "I'm meeting someone I met on the internet" then you are putting your own life at risk, and parents, if you are not monitoring your childs internet usage so they get into a situation where they have to lie to you about meeting someone off the internet YOU are putting your child in D A N G E R.
It amazes me how stupid kids can be, from a young age they are taught "don't get into cars with strangers" yet throw them on the internet and they not only get into the car with the stranger, they meet that car in a distant carpark, at night, in the middle of a forest whilst telling their parents they are babysitting next door.