Feeds

Sun's Facebook-slapping hits wrong target

Paedo-threat coverage risks more restrictions for all

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Next page: Bootnote

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.