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Friday, 9 April 2010

'Arrogant Facebook failing to tackle paedophile threat,' claims child protection expert

Facebook was last night accused of arrogant complacency in the face of soaring numbers of complaints about online paedophiles.

Child protection teams say cases involving bullies and sexual predators have trebled on the networking site this year.
Jim Gamble, of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said: 'Is Facebook so arrogant that it does not matter what the collective child protection community think? Social networking websites need to make some decisions
'Do you want to be a chosen site for rapists and murderers?'

The site has already snubbed a request to add a 'panic button' for children to alert police and child protection staff to paedophiles.
Other sites such as Bebo and MSN have adopted the 'Click-CEOP' button but Facebook has agreed to put it only on a separate reporting area and not on every page.
Mr Gamble, a former deputy director of the National Crime Squad, said Facebook had never reported any suspicious or inappropriate behaviour to a UK police force.

CEOP, which comprises former police officers, child protection officials and computer experts, monitors online paedophile activity and passes intelligence to police forces. It receives some public money.

From January to March, it had 252 complaints about Facebook - 40 per cent of which related to paedophiles grooming children. That compares with 297 complaints throughout 2009.
Mr Gamble said: 'Our reports are increasing month on month.

'None of these [252] complaints came direct from Facebook.

'If their system is so robust and they are receiving so many reports and concerns from young people, then where are they?

'What Facebook do not understand is prevention or deterrence.

'The sort of thing I'm talking about is a mother calling us and saying her daughter has been talking to someone on Facebook she is worried about and she's reported it to Facebook and there is no response.

'Facebook are confusing their approach to content with their approach to behaviour.

'That is where predators will go online, engage the young and vulnerable, and lure them offline where they can abuse them.'

Mr Gamble is due to meet the vice-president of the site in Washington on Monday for urgent talks.
Facebook claims having the panic button on every page could lead to fewer reports of potential predators.
The issue hit the headlines last month following the conviction of a serial rapist for the murder of schoolgirl Ashleigh Hall.
Peter Chapman posed as a young boy on Facebook to lure the 17-year-old to her death in Sedgefield, County Durham.
Yesterday Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, accused Facebook of being irresponsible.

'It seems so bizarre that they won't adopt the CEOP button. They will get more business because their site will be seen as safer,' he said.

A spokesman for Facebook said: 'We take the issue of safety very seriously, and recently met the Home Secretary to discuss online safety.

'We are due to meet with CEOP next week to talk them through our safety strategy.

'We will wait to have this meeting prior to sharing our plans more widely with the public soon afterwards.'

Daily Mail