Facebook has come under attack from Britain's most senior police officers, who have criticised the social-networking giant for refusing to adopt a "panic button" which would allow victims of online sexual grooming to report their concerns directly to the authorities.Which is a little disingenuous – they have agreed to the button, they just aren’t placing it where the odious Jim Gamble, Paedofinder General, thinks they should.
And like every thwarted bully, he’s run to his mates to back him up.
The social-networking site yesterday announced that it would adopt the "button", designed by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), on one page of its site – a page which appears when users have already decided to report abuse. But it is still refusing to adopt the button on every page of its site, as requested by Britian's online protection agency, because it claims that to do so could create "additional complexity" and may result in fewer people reporting grooming.Which didn’t suit the people who know best:
Yesterday, in a letter signed by chief constables from 43 police forces across Britain, senior police officers said that the steps taken by the social-networking giant are not good enough.Oh dear, really? How sad.
What do they plan to do about this?
After the four-hour meeting, which both sides said was "constructive", Facebook said that it would introduce a link to CEOP's reporting system which would appear when users decided to report abuse via the site's own measures. It also said it would invest £5m in education about how to stay safe online – a relatively tiny amount for a company valued at more than £9bn.But more than they are obliged to do! Most blackmailers would be quite happy with £5 million…
While acknowledging the concessions, Mr Gamble said the situation was still not satisfactory. "The critical issues remain unresolved," he said. "We believe that – without the deterrence provided by direct visible access to the CEOP button on every page – children will not be empowered, parents cannot be reassured and the offender will not be deterred.God! This man’s rampant ego could provide us limitless cheap power, if we could only find some way of harnessing it…
"During yesterday's constructive meeting with Facebook they did not say 'No' to the button. We are hopeful that, once they have considered their position, they will take the critical final step to make their environment safer by adopting the direct CEOP link."
The police officers' letter, sent to Facebook, said: "In the real world we do not filter reports through another organisation or company; the individual simply picks up a phone or visits their local police station. The 'CLICK CEOP' mechanism offers such a reporting service for the 21st-century citizen."And will you be any more careful with that information than you currently are with other records?
I bet the answer will be ‘No’…
Richard Allen, Facebook's director of policy for Europe, said: "We completely accept that our users should be able to report abuse directly to CEOP but we disagree on the best design solution to implement that.That doesn’t matter. The Righteous have spoken, and you WILL do what they want.
"From our experience, 'buttons' produce less good results in terms of people actually reporting abuse. They intimidate and confuse people. We think our simple text link is a far more effective solution.
"All we are saying is that when it come to the specifics of how to design online reporting systems we have considerable expertise."
They don’t want to hear from experts in designing online material. They are listening to the experts in
So what do the kids themselves think? Well, the ‘Indy’ has Rose:An 11 year-old's view:
I was only 10 when I first started using Facebook about a year ago. Like many children in Britain, I lied about my age. It's only supposed to be for those aged 13 and over, but of course many others (and me) ignored this and made ourselves appear years older.Well, who’dathunkit?
None of the parents really agrees with their children using Facebook, but we still use it anyway. After that incident, my school sent out a letter about Facebook saying we shouldn't be using it.Ignore the school like you ignore your parents, Rose!
The site now has this new report button: if anyone posts anything rude or mean you can report him or her, and he or she will get banned.Errr….
Hopefully, that’s not quite how it works! Though, would anyone be surprised?
My mum says I am breaking the law, but to be honest I don't care, because I know I won't be arrested or anything like that.Out of the mouths of…
My view on children using Facebook is that, as long as they don't make friends with people they don't know, they will be fine – this is all a big fuss about nothing.Well, one little nugget of wisdom there!
Perhaps we should give Rose Jim’s job? Could an eleven-year-old do any worse?