Facebook moderation failures are the norm

Facebook is coming under intense scrutiny this week and not before time.  The social networking tool may have its uses for responsible people who want to keep in touch with friends or network with people who share similar interests, but it is a haven for bullies, identity thieves, sexual predators and people with access to a computer who have failed to take their medication.

It’s easy to get on to Facebook, but getting off it and having all your personal information deleted is a convoluted process.  This demonstrates the service is not run for the benefit of users, but rather for the benefit of the company making money out of it.  But the real issue is that Facebook isn’t policed properly by its administration team.  This is an undeniable fact.

The Jon Venables case has exposed that fact like no other as the case of David Calvert reveals.  Hours after the news broke on Tuesday 2nd March that one of the child killers of James Bulger, Jon Venables, had been returned to prison after his previous release on licence, a Facebook group was created called:

“John Venables is David Calvert and lives in Fleetwood… kill the ****”

More than 2500 morons joined the group, filling the comments box with threats and abuse.  That is bad enough, but the worst of it is that the group page remained on Facebook for a full week, only being removed from the site on Tuesday 9th March.  That is a terrible indictment of the policing of the site by Facebook’s administrators.

As a tool Facebook has long made privacy a minefield of confusion for users who try to withhold certain personal details they are encouraged to fill in.  But then, that is the intention of Facebook’s pontificating geek creator, Mark Zuckerberg, who took a good idea and made it into a money spinner before letting power go to his head and appointing himself the arbeiter of what privacy constituted by declaring privacy is no longer a social norm.  This has resulted in arbitrary changes to privacy settings by Facebook in December 2009 that made more personal information publicly accessible.

While Zuckerberg has been holding forth on what constitutes social norms, his tool has refused to adopt social networking norms which would see it display the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) panic button, enabling youngsters to report if they have been targeted by a paedophile while using the tool.

There is a clear pattern here.  Facebook is not a responsibly run platform.  It seeks to undermine the privacy of its users and fails to act quickly to stamp out the kind of abuse and threats experienced by David Calvert.  It isn’t just adults, school children suffer on the platform every day as groups are set up for the sole purpose of bullying and intimidating them.  Complaints are not dealt with, as my neighbour’s daughter will testify after attempts to take down a group page that speculates about her sexual behaviour and encourages abusive comments to be made about her have still not resulted in moderator action.

Given the intentional lack of privacy and the failure to deal with hate groups and abuse of users, in the final analysis, the only safe solution for using Facebook is to not use it at all.

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3 Responses to “Facebook moderation failures are the norm”

  1. 1 Gareth 10/03/2010 at 10:42 am

    “While Zuckerberg has been holding forth on what constitutes social norms, his tool has refused to adopt social networking norms which would see it display the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) panic button, enabling youngsters to report if they have been targeted by a paedophile while using the tool.”

    This I disagree with. It is arm-twisting of the same ilk as the Government does with ‘voluntary’ regulation on the threat of it becoming legislation. The State is using children to keep tabs on sex offenders.

    CEOP is a group run by a former policeman that with the connivance of current policemen is throwing it’s weight around.

    It is disgusting to me that they are exploiting the sad case of Ashleigh Hall’s murder despite there being no evidence whatsoever that a CEOP ‘panic button’ would have made a shit of difference.

    Is there something wrong with expecting parents to take the time to educate their children about the dangers of meeting strangers, how the people they communicate with on the internet might not be who and what they say they are and why it might not be a good idea to put your private life on the internet?

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 10/03/2010 at 10:52 am

    It may be arm-twisting Gareth, but the fact remains while other networking tools provide a simple to use system to report questionable behaviour, Facebook doesn’t.

    Nobody has suggested that having a CEOP button would have made any difference in the case of Ashleigh Hall. It is clear from what it known of the case that it would have made no difference. What it does however, is demonstrate a pattern of failure on the part of Facebook to take inappropriate behaviour on its system seriously.

    If there was a CEOP button on Facebook, behaviour such as that described in this article could be reported and followed up.

    The failure of Facebook administrators to deal with groups set up to bully and intimidate youngsters, or even people like Calvert, demonstrate the tool’s safeguards are not fit for purpose. That is the point of my post.

  3. 3 bex 10/03/2010 at 2:05 pm

    Maybe a panic button would not have worked in that case but the fact remains facebook has made it all too easy for sex offenders to target young women!! I myself have had 8 friend requests of men who i have no friend’s in common with in just the last month and have no idea how they have found me now i am not suggesting any of these men where sex offenders but just pointing out how easy it is on facebook for people like Peter Chapman to hunt for victims!

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