Thursday, 8 September 2011

Facebook? Face Facts!

Have you heard the story yet of the Northern Irish father of a 12 year old girl that is taking a landmark case against Facebook? He is, understandably, irate that his child is in serious danger from sexual predators and paedophiles following sexually explicit photographs and status updates that were posted on her page.

'That's outrageous' you might say, 'That poor child'. But here's the crux of it, this 12 year old has written these posts, taken and posted these pictures and invited sexual interest from many, many men herself. She was in 'care' at the time but obviously allowed unsupervised access to the internet, despite her father contacting Facebook on two previous occasions to shut down her accounts for similar behaviour.

The story, first revealed by The Daily Mail is sure to cause debate and it has been suggested that, should it prove successful, may see widespread changes in Facebook usage. I first heard this on the radio while working on Tuesday, I'm fairly sure any one that passed me as that story unfolded were wondering about the crazy lady shouting at her radio.

Since when did it become acceptable to abdicate responsibility for your children? Granted, this child wasn't in his immediate care at the time but why wasn't she being supervised? He claims Facebook is guilty of negligence but I can't help asking? Facebook? Really? It's not that I don't have sympathy for the man, I do, I can't imagine the trouble he is having/will have with this young girl should they not get to the root of her problems but his anger at negligence is misplaced in the extreme. Surely her Carer was aware of her behaviours and told to look out for warning signs. If not, why not?

In the interim, get the child offline! The PSNI have confiscated her phone to examine texts, forward & back, with men in the immediate area and farther afield. Why had she got a phone? Yes children these days are using mobiles younger and younger but NOT when they're a danger to themselves, exhibiting such self damaging behaviour.

Drunken FB'ing? Be afraid, very afraid...

It would seem Mark Zuckerberg is in agreement . Facebook is not best placed to supervise your children, I would go so far as to say Facebook couldn't care less about your children. Do you know why? Because they're YOUR children. There are grave risks for young children online but also in the real world. We've all heard of Stranger Danger so why doesn't that apply online? It does but why are the zealots jumping on this bandwagon so ready to ignore it? 

Both my lads are online and on Facebook, have been for a couple of years. Both have me added as a friend and that's the compromise we've reached. The PC is in the living room and that won't change. I give them a degree of independence but the fact is they're still children. I regularly check usage, history and contacts. I very often veto pictures, updates and friends, because that's my job. Nobody else's. I explain several times a month that while they don't agree with all of my decisions, they are my decisions. That the human brain doesn't fully develop it's reasoning centre until the age of 21, so of course they don't always see my point. They LOVE when I roll that chestnut out.

When I asked the eldest Gorgebag to take down a picture of his sixpack he wasn't best pleased. 'Paedophiles are looking at you!' I insisted, 'Lucky paedophiles' says he. 'Want to know an interesting fact about your brain, Dear?'. 

Where do you fall in this debate? Do you reckon FB are to blame?

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