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New York's Slap to the Facebook

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the oh-no-you-didn't dept.

Social Networks 157

Frequent Slashdot Contributor Bennett Haselton writes "Last month Facebook had to submit to some ritualistic lashing when New York Attorney General Cuomo accused them of misrepresenting the site's safety features and exposing minors to sexual predators -- thus making it official that "Facebook is the new MySpace". Facebook did agree to make some concessions, mainly responding faster to abuse reports. But would this make any difference, when anyone who loses their account can sign up for a new one instantly? More generally, when politicians beat up on social networking sites, what changes do they want to see made, and why do they think those changes would accomplish anything?" Hit that link below to continue to read what Bennett has to say...

There are three questions that any politician attacking social networking sites, should have to answer, in order to be specific about what they want. First, what kind of contact do they think the social networking sites should prohibit between adults and minors? All politicians agree on prohibiting sexual solicitation, but that's a non-issue since that's already against the law. So are they asking the sites to block adults and minors from messaging each other at all? Or only "flirtatious" messages, or only requests to meet in person? Some of these answers are more ridiculous than others, but let them pick one. Second, if the site does try to monitor for inappropriate contact between adults and minors, is there any practical way to stop someone from falsely signing up as a minor? Third, if someone's account is cancelled for inappropriate behavior, what good does that do when they can just create another one? (Cuomo's office declined to respond to these questions, referring me only to their press releases. Facebook did not respond to requests for comment.)

Complaining about the futility of Internet regulation is about as hard as complaining about media coverage of Paris Hilton. But in this case, it's not merely that the laws wouldn't do any good, it's that I can't see how the political grandstanding could even plausibly lead up to any laws, even stupid ones.

Facebook's big concession in their settlement with Cuomo was that they would respond faster to complaints sent to about inappropriate contact. (Previously, the AG's office had sent test complaints to the address saying things like, "My 13 YEAR OLD received this extremely inappropriate message from a local NYC man. Please take action IMMEDIATEL!" (sic), and received no response.) But what constitutes "abuse"? Facebook's Terms of Service do not mention contact between adults and minors except to say that you may not "solicit personal information from anyone under 18" (as written, this prohibition would apply to everyone, and not just adults). Does that mean you can send flirtatious messages to an underage user as long as you don't ask for contact information (which you wouldn't need to do anyway, if it's posted on their profile and they add you to their friends list)? For that matter, does that mean if you're 18 and you ask a 17-year-old Facebook user for her phone number, you're breaking the rules? (Or, wait, this applies even if you yourself are 17 as well!) Of course there's nothing new about terms of service agreements which are vaguely written and haphazardly enforced, or playing parlor games about how the terms would be absurd if taken literally. But when a government office is threatening to bring charges and possibly push for new laws unless Facebook agrees to enforce its own Terms of Service, then it's fair game to ask exactly what rules the AG's office is asking Facebook to make people follow.

What if Facebook blocked adults from contacting minors at all? Before, I would have assumed that Facebook would respond to this suggestion by saying that it was too draconian, that nobody had ever seriously tried to outlaw all contact between minors and adults on the Internet, etc. But Facebook's Chief Privacy Officer appeared at one point to endorse this policy as reasonable, by saying that, well, they did block adults from messaging minors on the site, even though they didn't. Cuomo's letter pointed out that any Facebook user can message any other user, and they still can. (I asked Facebook if their Chief Privacy Officer was misquoted in the article, but they didn't respond.) So leaving aside the question of whether Facebook should try to stop adults from messaging minors, would it even be possible? Of course you could block registered adult users from messaging registered underage users. But since any adult who planned on doing something suspicious would probably do it from a "throwaway" account instead of their real one, the question is whether you could screen people from creating "throwaway" accounts pretending to be minors -- sort of the opposite of adult credit-card verification for porn sites. (My suggestion: Make the person answer a question like, 'The way to impress a girl in high school is with (a) looks; (b) intelligence; (c) sense of humor; or (d) "confidence"'. From listening to most adults, you'd think they have no clue about the correct answer to this, except for the ones who also add, 'What do you mean, "in high school"?')

Facebook's current screening system is that anyone who registers as a high school student (and if you're under 18, you have to register as a high school or college student -- homeschoolers and dropouts are out of luck unless they lie about their age), has to be confirmed by an existing student at that school, by sending them a friend request and having them confirm that you are friends. (Your account still works before you're confirmed, but you blocked from certain things that only high school accounts can do, such as browse for other members of that high school.) This is another recent change that Facebook made that was not listed in their settlement agreement -- previously, the Attorney General had documented that anybody under 18 could sign up and join a high school network, but now, you can't do this without getting another student to confirm you.

However, this can be circumvented as well. I'm not endorsing the following trick for any mischief-making, but I think it's sufficiently obvious that there's no reason not to point it out: (1) create a profile of a non-overweight girl and sign up as a member of a high school network, pending confirmation; (2) search for several boys in that network and send them friend requests; and (3) wait for at least one of them to confirm you back, which they will probably do, without even being sure if they actually know you or not. Voila, you've got your "high school student" account. Then you can presumably use that account as a foothold to approve other accounts, for example if you're a male and you want to create a fake high schooler profile as an actual guy, assuming you only want to pretend to be a teenager, not a female, because it's not like you're not some kind of weirdo.

Facebook could conceivably require real-world verification for anyone who signed up as a minor -- confirmation from their school, for example. But this would be competitive suicide for any site whose main draw is that everybody wants to go there because everybody else is already there, so they need signups to be as easy as possible. Even if Congress passed a law draconion enough that it required all social networking sites to do this, Facebook could just re-incorporate overseas (for a billion dollars, wouldn't you move to Canada, Mark?), or else a foreign competitor could take over the teen-social-networking market by offering signups without cumbersome verifications. What would Congress do then, pass a law requiring ISPs to block access to overseas social-networking sites? They couldn't even do that with child pornography.

Finally, if Facebook does cancel your account, you can always sign up for a new one instantly with a new e-mail address. Losing your Facebook account might be a harsh punishment for someone who had built up an extensive network of contacts around their profile. But I'll bet that any adult with a network of friends on Facebook, built around a profile that gives their real name and employer, is probably using a secondary profile with a lot less information on it if they're writing to 13-year-old girls. A dispensable secondary account like that can easily be replaced, so Facebook responding to abuse reports by closing people's accounts is just playing whack-a-mole. An arrest can stop someone permanently, but you can only arrest someone if they've actually broken the law, like sending an unambiguous sexual solicitation to an underage user.

So there's really nothing that Facebook or any other social-networking site could do to prevent adults from signing up as minors, to prevent adults and minors from messaging each other, or to keep abusers from creating new accounts. Occasionally, they are able to make some minor concessions that a politician can take credit for -- in July, the attorney general of Connecticut alerted Facebook to three sex offenders who had profiles on the site, which Facebook duly removed. Did the sex offenders then sign up for new profiles? Are most sex offenders on Facebook smart enough not to sign up under their real names? Story doesn't say. That's one reason I could never make it as a regular reporter, because you're not allowed to insert your own voice into the story even to point out the crashingly obvious.

But basically, the major issues that politicians keep bringing up about social networking sites, are unsolvable. For a politician, of course, this is the best of both worlds -- they can rail against social networking sites forever, knowing that the "problems" will never go away.

This is usually the point at which the writer inserts an obligatory note that the real solution is to sit down and talk to your kids. Well, yes and no. I think first you should be as informed as possible about what the various risks are, not just for online activity but for all of life's experiences, and then sit down and talk. You could even do the research together and make a Family Fun Night out of it! (Sound of teenagers groaning and fumbling for their iPods.) For openers: one study found that in one year in the U.S., "Law enforcement at all levels made an estimated 2,577 arrests for Internet sex crimes against minors", and only 39% of those were for crimes against real, identifible minors (excluding arrests for To Catch A Predator-style sting operations). On the other hand, the National Transportation Safety Board reports that every year, about 3.4 million people are injured and 41,000 are killed in auto accidents in the U.S. Even this rough comparison would seem to suggest that until you've talked to your kid about every last detail you can think of regarding car safety, that's a better use of time than talking about Facebook. Perhaps you think it's an apples-and-oranges comparison because the sex crimes statistic counts only arrests, not actual incidents. But then the question is whether a true apples-to-apples comparison has ever been done, or how you could do one. The point is that there is some objective truth about the relative risks, and if you read even just one study comparing them, you're better informed than 90% of the people out there, including most parents. You want to be the cool Mom? You don't have to let your kids do everything, just have reasons for stuff!

My promise to my own future kids is that I won't ever make the mistake of thinking that just because I paid for their room and board for a few years, that makes me better informed about the various risks factors of different activities. I will probably be better informed than my kids, for a long while anyway, but that won't be why. And I hope we can teach them so much that before long they'll be better informed than most people, including most of their friends' parents. Then my wife will teach them to be polite enough not to point this out to their friends' parents, but with half their genes coming from me I wouldn't bet on it.

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who cares? (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 6 years ago | (#21324861)

If he's a frequent contributor, then he has no life!

Re:who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325839)

Why doesn't Edavojohn get called a frequent contributor? He's always submitting stories, then posting in the discussions.

TLDR (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325961)

Facebook was better when it was just a college networking site... Back then it required you to use the email address from your specific school. When they opened facebook up to high schools, we all knew it would just turn into yet another social networking site. I'm sure the next big thing will be some project championed by google, somehow tied into picasa... Facebook is quickly becoming cluttered with all the random junk that it used to lack, but thats what made it great.
They got greedy, and now its a piece of junk.

I 4 1 (0, Offtopic)

Mipoti Gusundar (1028156) | more than 6 years ago | (#21324875)

I for one am wellcomming our new faceslapbooking overloads!

WOW (3, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21324897)

I didn't realize that you could have an article that long on /.
Aside from that, what's with all the common sense about teaching children about the dangers of the Internet before allowing them to use it? That is just politically incorrect, the author can't possibly be an American! Does Homeland Security know this guy is trying to take their job from them? Absolutely criminal!

Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (3, Interesting)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325321)

The problem is, even if you are a responsible parent, the availability and accessibility of this media is growing at an exponential rate. I've got a couple of kids myself and am doing what I can. We teach our children about strangers - which includes the internet, and, on the computer my children use, I run DansGuardian giving me the ability to just block anything that's a problem.

Thing is, I take every reasonable step I can to protect my children from predators. If these, "social networking" sites aren't willing to show the same level of commitment to this that I have, then my only alternative is to block access to those sites.

but that only works at home....doesn't it? What about everywhere else they go?

So, speaking as a responsible parent, it would be nice if these "social networking" sites were also "socially responsible".

BTW - I have a MySpace page....and their spamblocking tools seem to be working.

Re:Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (5, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325585)

that is exactly the point...censorship does not work. If you don't teach your kids to be responsible no matter of the amount of danger, they will never be safe. You see, children (gasp) are really just adults that don't know enough to be called adults yet. If people over the magic age of 18 can kill and die, as well as determine what is appropriate for them to view on the Internet, I'm betting there are a large percentage of them that can do it at a much younger age if they are well informed and taught about the dangers. Wow, when you think about it, there are a very large number of people that are older than 18 who fall prey to the dangers of the Internet. Why are we so afraid?

Do you personally know of all the sex offenders in your local area? If not, why are you worried about the dangers of the Internet? And ooops, but most sexual abuse seems to be perpetrated by someone the victim knows rather than a stranger from the Internet. [] How does the dangers of the Internet affect those statistics??????? Please please please will someone explain that to us. Are you certain the priest you see each week is not overly friendly? How about your wife's uncle bill?

If you are worried about the kids learning about sex, I can tell you straight up, better you tell them and guide them than they learn it from little johnny whose idea of sex is abusing girls... in a kid kind of way.

The real dangers are close enough for you to touch, NOT on the Internet.

The real issue is missed here (4, Insightful)

Gription (1006467) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325883)

The Internet is a whole world full of all of the good and bad that exists in the real world (and then some). Do you let your kids wander about unsupervised through the real world? Everyone would think you were insane if you did that.

Then why do so many people let their kids wonder through the Internet unsupervised? It is just stupid. The simple solution is "No computers with an Internet connection in their rooms!" The computer should be out in a visible exposed public place where they can't sneak around because they can never tell when someone might peek around the corner.

Problem solved...

Re:The real issue is missed here (1)

JrOldPhart (1063610) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326343)

Then they go to a friends, or the library...
Problem back!

Re:The real issue is missed here (4, Insightful)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326867)

"Then why do so many people let their kids wonder through the Internet unsupervised? It is just stupid. The simple solution is "No computers with an Internet connection in their rooms!"

How about somehow raising kids so that they aren't stupid as rocks?!?!?

I mean, c'mon...what happened to kids? When I was raised, of course, no internet, but, there were physical tricks I was warned against. No talking to strangers...don't get in a strange car, stay around with friends when out, etc. And I was smart enough as a kid to not do stupid things. What happened to that? After I was in like 3rd grade, my Mom went back to work. I could easily walk home 'alone' from school, and not get into trouble. I knew where the handgun in the house was, and could use it...but, I had the fear of God put into me not to even think of touching it unless I was home alone and threatened by someone possibly breaking in, etc...(which almost did happen once, but, another story).

But, really...when did kids become so stupid, as to run to meet someone in another state just due to a chatroom meeting? I dunno what the deal is? Are there more pervs. out there enticing children? I guess it is possible, but, I kinda doubt is just more publicized more. Those 24/7 news networks have to pump something out on slow news days.

I dunno, I could have easily had my own private internet connection as a kid in my room, and it would have posed no danger to me. I'd probably have been looking at nekkid chicks sure, but, that's nothing more than the skin magazines we all had back then...

So, what is the deal? Are parents raising street stupid kids? Too sheltered perhaps, and they don't know what to do when confronted with possible danger? What?

Re:The real issue is missed here (2, Insightful)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326983)

Do you let your kids wander about unsupervised through the real world? Everyone would think you were insane if you did that.
Perhaps you should move somewhere else. I see kids all the time walking around unsupervised and I live in a major Canadian city. And yes I walked around unsupervised when I was a kid. My mom even told me that my kindergarten teacher told her NOT to walk me to school because it is unhealthy for my development. And NO I never got raped, murdered or kidnapped. If things are really that bad where you live (the US I presume), then you should move into the most isolated area you can think of, and let your children wander around free where the murderers and rapists won't find them. They will grow up happier and healthier than the evil place they are living now. But I smell FUD.

The simple solution is "No computers with an Internet connection in their rooms!"
One of the stupidest right-wing things I've ever heard. But a VERY popular idea. The same type of people who think it's OK to read their kid's diary or journal. Treat your kid like an imbecile, and watch what they grow into.

Not really missed. (3, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | more than 6 years ago | (#21327037)

Check the stats - 98%+ of abuse cases are real world cases - not related to the internet. How many times have you heard a politician screaming about needing more funds for handling real world cases? The bill last year wanted to make data retention mandatory (to the tune of $400M+ annually) with some governmental financial support. However they vetoed the FBI request for a budget increase for the MEC department.

Even if the government could manage to exterminate every case of child abuse related to the internet, it wouldn't make a noticeable change in the amount of abuse going on. However, because it's a wild frontier that politicians can get publicity on, they scream about it like it's the end of the world. The internet is no different than the real world in terms of how to protect yourself. If parents take the time to teach their kids how to stay safe in the real world, then Internet safety is a footnote.

Committing hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars to 'make the internet safe' without also committing a proportionately larger amount of cash to the real world problem is almost criminal. It shows that the soundbytes are all people are interested in. Actual results are completely secondary to the volume of airtime and feelgood support politicians can generate by spouting off this crap.

Re:Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325647)

That is true. Like they say, it takes a village. If the parents are the only ones taking any responsibility then it makes the parents' jobs much more difficult. What happens when the child is at school, or at the local library, or at an internet cafe, or anywhere else? It becomes extremely difficult to do your job when everyone else is working against you, whether that job is raising a child, or doing any other task.

Re:Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325695)

The thing is, the availability of the media may be growing, but the number of predators is not growing exponentially. Statistically speaking, the majority of sexual crimes (including crimes against minors) are committed by people who know their victims, and in the case of crimes against children, usually involve people who have some sort of supervisory relationship with the child (e.g. a teacher, parent, guardian, etc.). This is true even when you consider internet crime, and the amount of internet crime would have to increase fairly dramatically for this to not be true.

Therefore, you are far more effective at preventing this sort of thing by taking obvious steps---assuming you trust the members of your own family, you should get to know the A. teachers, B. boyfriends, C. babysitters, etc. Get to know the people who interact with your child on a regular basis and decide whether you trust them or not. Screen teachers more carefully to make sure they aren't sexual predators, and consider personality profiling as well. (It amazes me how often I see news reports where this didn't happen.) And so on.

Also, sociopaths are likely to go after the easy targets. Don't let your kid be an easy target and those types are likely to move on to easier marks. Teach them what to watch out for, teach them not to go meet people who they chat with on the Internet unless they bring an adult along, and teach them to act responsibly. If you do that, you really don't have a lot to worry about as long as you trust your kid to pay attention to what you tell them and do the right thing. At some point, it comes down to not whether you trust the unknown boogeymen, but whether you trust your children.

Re:Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325911)

but that only works at home....doesn't it? What about everywhere else they go?

When they're out of your house you have to trust whoever is in a supervisory position wherever they are - be it the bus driver, a teacher, librarian, or their friend's parent.

When your kid is at home you personally make sure they don't talk to strangers, don't see pornography, don't get stabbed, don't get kidnapped. When your kid goes to school, or over to their friend's house, you can't do that. It's up to their teachers to make sure they don't get stabbed. It's up to their friend's parents to make sure they don't see pornography.

Sure...there are tools to help... Some folks make more use of them than others. And maybe there is more that Facebook can do to help... But you really can't expect Facebook to become child-safe any more than you can expect Wal-Mart or your local park to become child-safe.

Re:Let me play "Devil's Advocate" on that one... (0, Flamebait)

Bastard of Subhumani (827601) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326677)

accessibility of this media is growing at an exponential rate.
It is? Care to provide the equation?

Or is it possible that in reality it's just growing fast, and you wanted to look clever?

Re:WOW (1)

edittard (805475) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326597)

I didn't realize that you could have an article that long on /.
To notice, you'd have to read it.

P.S. What's it about, anyway?

Re:WOW (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326633)

I read the first paragraph only then got overwhelmed when I got past that. There should be a warning before posting such a long article on slashdot as it may cause brain seizures. nuff said! 0-|

Re:WOW (1)

unlametheweak (1102159) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326705)

teaching children about the dangers of the Internet
The Internet is not a dangerous place. If it was then I wouldn't be here.
What is dangerous is fear and ignorance.

But I suspect this whole controversy has to do more with the fact that a powerful "moral majority" of American's just don't want teens to have sex, whether it be with people older than them or not. Demonize and criminalize the older part of the equation, and one has a great rallying point for society. Helps people feel like they have a common goal and belief system. If people can't agree on the economy or the war, then lets create the idea of a "predator". It's like the old myth that children had to be weary of poisoned candy during Halloween. Yep, bad things can happen, but it rarely happens by strangers.

I'd be more worried about a child going to church or becoming a "page boy" for the morally righteous in Congress than speaking to somebody on Facebook.

Hand Washing Misshap (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21324915)

I just had a hand washing misshap. I didn't finish washing the soap off my hands and I tried to use them fix my hair. I ended up washing my hair in the sink. Almost on queue with my head firmly in the sink a coworking walked in. sigh.

Yeah (2, Insightful)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21324943)

They just want to be able to tell their moron constituents that they are "tough on child predators". Meanwhile they'd get more accomplished working with Dateline than spending years going after these social networking sites to get meaningless changes in place.

Re:Yeah (2, Informative)

RiffRafff (234408) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325367)

Meanwhile they'd get more accomplished working with Dateline...

How so? []

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325399)

Charges were dropped in some cases in one county, and this contradicts what I'm saying... how?

They still have netted more convictions than going after Facebook will.

Re:Yeah (2, Insightful)

Lord Ender (156273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325859)

More generally,

when politicians beat up on [anything remotely related to children], what changes do they want to see made[?]
The change they want to see made is: get more votes by manipulating the irrational paternal instincts of their constituents.

Both parties do it. The Republicans have made it a cornerstone of their faux "family values" campaign. The Democrats (both Clinton campaigns) want to expand censorship of television and video games. Neither party has any evidence that gay rights or games causes deviant or violent behavior. But the facts don't matter, only fear matters.

The number one priority of a politician should be to protect our rights. The number two priority should be to enhance our prosperity (economic development).

I have never heard of a politician with these priorities--it's much easier to manipulate our emotions.

Re:Yeah (2, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325945)

I'm still trying to figure out Dateline isn't violating the law. If they are deputized, then I would think that there would be serious problems with entrapment. If they are not deputized, then they are offering sex with minors to adults. As I understand it, that would be illegal, just the same as selling oregano to an undercover cop, or offering prostitution services, even if you have no intent of going through with it.

Re:Yeah (1)

JoshJ (1009085) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326139)

It's my understanding that dateline uses 18-year olds that appear younger. It's still really shady, because in that case the person wouldn't even be breaking a law if he went through with it.

Re:Yeah (1)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326387)

What happened initially when that show aired is they let the people go on their merry way. Obviously this pissed a lot of people off because here you have people intending to have sex with children and they just walk away to do it another day. Then states passed laws that allowed this type of situation to be prosecuted. Perverted Justice people posing as children are not actually children, and the people that are busted get charged with crimes that have to do with intent to have sex with a minor or something related to the transmission of sexually explicit material.

Oregano? (1)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326653)

Please tell me on what charge you can be brought for selling oregano to anyone, let alone a cop. If there is one it's a great way to get back at my local grocer. Thanks.

Sorry? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21324987)

Goodwill gestures to minimize risk to teens and kids are a good idea but since when is an online business responsible for other peoples children? This is really quite simple; responsibility lies with parents and legal guardians!

Re:Sorry? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325327)

Just because it's not your job is no reason not to look out for the interests of your customers.

Re:Sorry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325705)

Just because it's not your job is no reason not to look out for the interests of your customers.

That's the goodwill gesture bit. I operate an online business myself and any law would probably include any community forum with private messaging facilities. That's stupid because the people with the authority to permit or deny internet access are the legal guardians. How is it reasonable to hold anybody else accountable?

Re:Sorry? (3, Insightful)

kelnos (564113) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325729)

Facebook already looks out for the interests of their customers -- their advertisers. Facebook users are not Facebook customers. Facebook users are the product that they sell to advertisers.

Re:Sorry? (1)

s!lat (975103) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325545)

Thats silly. Everyone knows that the responsibility to raise our children lays with the government. After all, they do know whats best for us! :rolleyes:

Re:Sorry? (2, Insightful)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326275)

"since when is an online business responsible for other peoples children? "

Since Cuomo got elected Governor of NY and realized that the stunts he pulled as AG weren't going to cut it anymore. He has to come up with SOME way to stay in the headlines, does he not?

What about legitimate adult/child communication? (1)

JasonNolan (628882) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326577)

Many people use facebook to communicate with family members. I have two step-sisters under the age of 18, and I am well over that age. We communicate via facebook because it is where they 'hang out'. As well, I communicate with my students using Facebook, and some of them are under 18. The issue is inappropriate communication, not ageism. I agree that parents and schools should teach children about online safety... I do that as part of my job... and this should be facilitated by a robust abuse mechanism that is transparent. Strangely enough, I think that online anonymity is a problem. If you are over 18 and you want to keep your anonymity, which I think you should be allowed to keep, then it is reasonable to limit your communication to under aged individuals, or at least have your account flagged as such. IMHO of course.

The argument that never ceases (4, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325003)

This is just another "think of the children" moment and will continue to inflame the debate over social networking services. There will be the chorus of "if you don't like it, don't use it" followed by "about time someone makes them clean up their act", concluded with "someone has to be held accountable".

Look people, as long as Facebook, MySpace, et. al. do not go to extraordinary lengths to screen applicants (e.g. send in a physical application form along with corroborating evidence, doing background checks), then anyone using those services takes their chances, not unlike soliciting a prostitute or buying merchandise off of eBay. If parents are so worried about their minor children using these services and falling under the thrall of malevolent lotahrios, then they need to monitor (or outright block) their children's network access and hold accountable others who might provide those services to their children.

This is like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike to hold back the flood, while a 30-foot crack in the dam starts spraying water. It looks good on paper but any hardcore perv will find ways around things and keep right on doing what they do until they get arrested.

Re:The argument that never ceases (4, Insightful)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325155)

Thinking of the children too much, especially keeping children away from adults and vice versa, leads to things like Kid Nation and Lord of the Flies.

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325837)

Thinking of the children too much, especially keeping children away from adults and vice versa, leads to things like Kid Nation and Lord of the Flies.

OK, it's not good to be overprotective, but these examples don't make sense. Kid Nation is a completely artificial construct that I don't think has been done anywhere else, and IIRC, Lord of the Flies is total fiction, not even a wild exaggeration of on a true story.

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

jadin (65295) | more than 6 years ago | (#21327011)

Thinking of the children too much, especially keeping children away from adults and vice versa, leads to things like Kid Nation and Lord of the Flies.
So me being a better parent will prevent reality TV shows?

D'oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325159)

"This is like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike"

Now nobody will take your post seriously. ;)

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

butterwise (862336) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325513)

This is just another "think of the children" moment
Isn't that just what we want to keep the hardcore pervs from doing, thinking of the children?

Re:The argument that never ceases (2, Funny)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326083)

Yes, but you're asking Facebook to do this... which is kind of like putting Barney Fife into "Die Hard" and expecting the same results. You can't stop the pervs from thinking their thoughts and don't think for a second that if they had their access cut off to Facebook, they'd suddenly be out of the child loving business -- they'd just get out their trench coats and bags of candy and head back to the streets. At least then the cops might have a better shot at them.

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325865)

"This is like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike..."

Apparently we need to protect children from European soft-core porn too.

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325873)

Look people, as long as Facebook, MySpace, et. al. do not go to extraordinary lengths to screen applicants

The problem is when government gets involved with internet sites, the government forgot that companies have the option to move overseas. There is no need for a brick and mortar locations to be in one nation or another. The reason Myspace and Facebook reside in the US now was because their creators lived in the US and found it convenient to create and maintain said sites in the US.

However, if laws made it so difficult to operate a site in the US because every state would have its way with all these regulations that such sites might just pick up and leave (taking their income and jobs with them) to other countries more favorable to their presence.

Re:The argument that never ceases (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325935)

This is like the little Dutch boy putting his finger in the dike
Somebody was obviously thinking of the children ;)

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326017)

Well Facebook once did have a way to prevent predators from soliciting minors: you needed a .edu email address to sign up. This meant the only "children" you could "molest" were college kids.

Re:The argument that never ceases (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326915)

This is just another "think of the children" moment and will continue to inflame the debate over social networking services. There will be the chorus of "if you don't like it, don't use it" followed by "about time someone makes them clean up their act", concluded with "someone has to be held accountable".

Yep. Also, remember that many of the parents bitching are the same ones that will think nothing of dropping off their kids at the mall and leave them for 8 hours. This is another one of those 'fear of the unknown' things in which the actual risk incurred is probably far less than believed. Not that the kids shouldn't be supervised - but if parents are afraid of facebook, then there are a lot of things they should be far more scared of.

Just how stupid are young folk these days? (4, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325035)

I mean, when I was 10 and got started on IRC (yes, I was a weaksauce 10-14 year old that spent his non-gaming time in chat rooms), I still knew that people online only knew as much as what I told parents didn't even need to tell me that first name, state (not even county, just state), and sex were the only things that were ok to tell anyone...people that I got to know a bit, I could tell them my age, but again...all they had to go on was my first name and what state I lived in, so even if they were a sexual predator or whatever they couldn't exactly come knocking on my front door.

So whose fault is it, would you say? Parents, for not teaching their children these basic things about the Internet (i.e. they only know as much as you tell them) or is it the kid's fault for being a complete moron?

Re:Just how stupid are young folk these days? (1)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325359)


Seriously though, even THAT is too much sometimes. We travel the net under pseudonyms for a reason. Maybe it's because we think that's the name that identifies us better than "Robert Smith of Salt Lake City" or maybe it's because we want a little ambiguity to our actions online. When you're at a party and give your name and number to a girl, you give it to THAT girl and no one else (one can assume). A chat room or social web site is different, you yell it out to the whole room, but in this case the room is the world for those who are listening.
So, yes, we as individuals need to be smarter, we need to teach the next generation to be more concerned who DOES in fact know that they are 17/f/Florida and beyond. But, isn't this social engineering? If we start them early to think that giving any/all information to a stranger is okay and the government is protecting me from myself. Then the government wanting to know any/everything about me is just fine?

Re:Just how stupid are young folk these days? (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325387)

It's the kid's fault for being dumb and the parents for not being much better, Since you can't blame people for being dumb in this country (I think it's in the US constitution somewhere) we have to accomodate them somehow. That's where the problem arises.

The easiest person to fool.... (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325417) the person who is convinced that he's too smart to be fooled

that is all

Re:The easiest person to fool.... (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325549)

And the easiest way to not be attacked by someone you met online is to limit what you tell them about yourself.

That is all.

Re:The easiest person to fool.... (3, Insightful)

radl33t (900691) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326509)

It is much easier to fool those who think in platitudes.

Re:Just how stupid are young folk these days? (1)

Kamots (321174) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325987)

Just on a side note, a first name can be too much to give out.

For instance years back I wound up urgently needing to get ahold of an online friend. I only knew his first name (a common one... Bryan), but I also knew the IP addresses that he'd used over the past couple months (we were both semi-admins on the same site). Me and another online friend spent a couple hours, did a bit of social engineering (none of the illegal kind), and obtained his full name, address, and phone number.

It doesn't take much to have your veil of anonymity pierced.

As long as there are anonymous cowards... (1)

monkeyboythom (796957) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325059)

there will always be the spectre of the lurking pedophile? Is this what they are trying to get at?

Re:As long as there are anonymous cowards... (4, Funny)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325249)

Yes, Slashdot should change "Anonymous Coward" to "Potential Paedophile".

Re:As long as there are anonymous cowards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325567)

Yeah, you aren't a verified paedophile until you get an account. Also, I don't understand this online paedophile stuff. I mean, every case I've heard of has been consentual. Are there times where some kid is online and reveals his address and then six hours later a guy breaks in to the house and rapes them? I don't get it.

On the one hand you have people saying that kids shouldn't tell people their last name or address on the internet. That says to me that they are afraid that if a paedophile knows where a child lives he will come and have sex with them without their consent. That doesn't make any sense to me, it isn't hard to find out what houses have children in them by using your eyes. Houses with kids in them have kids coming and going. A paedophile could just roll around a random neighborhood and see which houses have kids.

On the other hand you have Dateline luring people by saying they want to have sex with them. It seems like most parents wouldn't be able to get worked up about that though because what kind of parent would allow their child on the internet if they thought they were going to go trolling for sex on it?

This whole issue confuses me. It boils down to you either think that if a paedophile knows you have kids in the house they will break in and rape them, or your kids are going to troll for sex on the internet. In the first case you should be sneaking your kids in and out of the house so nobody knows they are there. Never let them outside on their own, or somebody will rape them. In the second case just don't let your kid on the internet because they're going to arrange sexual encounters.

Re:As long as there are anonymous cowards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325745)

One problem is predators can pretend to be children and try to meet up with them, kidnap them, molest them whatever.

Re:As long as there are anonymous cowards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325779)

Come on, you can trust me. I've got candy...

Surprising (1)

kihjin (866070) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325085)

Study shows that bad things happen when parents neglect monitoring their (young) children's internet activities.

From what I can discern, Facebook offers users the ability of removing one's own account from all searching. You may opt to only be contacted by your friends. To everyone else, you shouldn't even exist. Therefore, if you do NOT want that "local NYC" man contacting you then do NOT make him your friend (despite the fact that he may have poked you a couple dozen times).

I would not consider it necessary for Facebook's to actively police its users. If a user is blantantly engaged in a criminal activity, contact your local law enforcement. They will PROPERLY contact Facebook, or simply find and arrest the person.

Oh and when your kids go off to college, I think the least of your worries would be their internet activities...

playing to the audience (2, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325125)

In most of these cases the politicians have no clear idea of the problem, nor any solutions (whether practical or not).

Generally they are responding to a perceived level of concern from members of the public. This may come to them directly (unlikely) or through focus-groups/media reports or just hearsay from their staff.

This means they feel they should do something, just to show they're on the case and to stop any possibility that their opponents can make political capital out of it. As a consequence they have no real idea of what can be done - or even have any first-hand experience of the websites they're attacking.

The best things the site owners can do is to nod gravely, agree that there are bad people about. State that they have state-of-the-art protections in place and that they spend $Xmillion per year "protecting" people.

Until there is a reliable way of identifying the baddies just by what they type, they'll always be open to this type of criticism and can not otherwise address it.

Stay safe, act sensibly, watch your kids -they're your responsibility

This will (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325161)

This will be modded down to -344 troll..


Why can't we simply monitor sexual predators better? This may sound silly, but it is an extremly well documented fact that sexual predators TYPICALLY(not always) will continue to prey after release from jail, after chemical castration, almost after anything. It is in there mind set to do this.. why not simply monitor there internet better? Require there internet traffic to block facebook/myspace. Require them to submit to use of internet blocking tech.

I fail to see how myspace/facebook can be held accountable for sicko's using there website to harm people. Its like blaiming the USPS for perverts sending little girls letters.

Chop their dicks off (-1, Troll)

paranode (671698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325185)


Re:Chop their dicks off (1)

wattrlz (1162603) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325423)

We've already tried that. They just resort to toys.

Re:This will (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325263)

What you suggest only works on people who've already been caught.

Re:This will (1)

rhizome (115711) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325347)

This may sound silly, but it is an extremly well documented fact that sexual predators TYPICALLY(not always) will continue to prey after release from jail, after chemical castration, almost after anything.

I question how well-documented this is, do you have a citation for this?

Re:This will (1)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325439)

36 of the offenders, which averages out to be 57.1%, had previous charges. The most common charge was sexual battery, with the number of 24 and an average of 38.1%.
Source: [] Thats over half of them had previous charges of sexual battery/assault or something of the like and that indicates they were charged with it. Then either aquited/plea bargained out/some sentence, and then went to offend AGAIN. Also:

The legislature further finds that [SVPs'] likelihood of engaging in repeat acts of predatory sexual violence is high. The existing involuntary commitment procedure is inadequate to address the risk [they] pose..."
source: [] which cites: Kan. Stat. Ann. 59-29a01 (1994) (preamble to Sexually Violent Predator Act) as the source for that quote. It keeps going man.. If they do it once, they will repeat. Not always, but often enough that it is a well documented probability.

Re:This will (4, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325751)

I was going to moderate this thread. But then I saw this garbage.

Total misuse of statistics. Specifically, you did it BACKWARDS

What the statistics say is this:

1. MOST (as in about 80%) of people convicted of child molestation charges NEVER do it again. This compares with an estimated 50% repeat offense for other crimes. That is, someone arrested for car theft is 50% likely to get arrested for car theft again, but someone arrested for child molestation is only 20% likely to do it again.

2. However, there is a SMALL percentage of child molesters that are 'addicted' to it. Those child molesters do it so often that 50% of all child molestations are done by repeat offenders.

This is VERY VERY important. It eliminates the foolish view that "they are all uncurable" That is wrong, 80% never do it again. It is only a small percentage of people that are 'uncurable'. But those that are uncurable will do it a LOT.

The proper logical way to do the laws is "Three strikes you are out." Zero tollerrance crap just does not work well.

Re:This will (1)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326637)

1. MOST (as in about 80%) of people convicted of child molestation charges NEVER do it again.

This claim is useless without a source.

Can you source it?

Re:This will (1)

Urd.Yggdrasil (1127899) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325405)

but it is an extremly well documented fact
I would like a citation on that "extremly(sic) well documented fact" of yours please. If I recall correctly, sex offenders have the second lowest recidivism rate of convicted offenders in the US; murderers being the lowest. That includes people who assaulted adults, not just minors, so the actual statistic on that is quite likely lower. BJS Recidivism Study [pdf] []

Re:This will (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325879)

This is NOT true at all.

It is however a popular misconception.

The acutal statistics show that 80% of people arrested for child molestation are NEVER arrested for child molestation again. Only about 20% are repeat sexual molesters. Another 22% or or so were arrested for violent crime but not child molestation (for some reason or other, after spending years in jail, with a child molestation credit on your rap sheet, you are more likely to get into fights...)

The reason why people think most offenders can not be cured is in that 20% repeat offenders, if they do repeat twice, there is like a 77% chance that they will repeat a third or more times.

As a comparison, the repeat offender rate for crimes OTHER than child molestation is over 60%.

Learn the truth, stop spreading myths. Where I got my statistics: Hanson, R. K., Scott, H., & Steffy, R. A. (1995). A Comparison of Child Molesters and Non-Sexual Criminals: Risk Predictors and Long-term Recidivism. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 32(3), 325-337.\

This claim is STILL useless without a source (1)

nunyadambinness (1181813) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326671)

The acutal statistics show that 80% of people arrested for child molestation are NEVER arrested for child molestation again.

Do you have a source for this? It is useless otherwise.

Re:This claim is STILL useless without a source (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326937)

Yes, I do have a source.

And if you READ MY POST, you will see that I listed my source

New Facebook App: Your Papers, Sir (2, Interesting)

richardtallent (309050) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325175)

The solution to social networks and spam is the same: *trust networks*.

Not identity, TRUST.

As in, you can't send me an email unless someone *I* know vouches for you. Or someone they know, etc., with degrees of separation up to my level of comfort.

I don't need to know you personally (or even know your real name) to trust you as someone who won't spam me, and I can probably trust your trusted contacts as well. With 3-4 degrees of separation, the people allowed to contact me via IM, email, telephone, etc. would likely include almost EVERYONE who would legitimately need to contact me, while including no spammers.

Sure, social engineering is always possible with such a system, but if my buddy Joe (or his buddy Frank) is an idiot and has a habit of trusting spammers, I should simply be able to mark him as "untrustworthy."

Now, how does this apply to the TERRORIST-PREDATOR-HACKER problem?

First off, predators are experts at social engineering, and even full government vetting would only prevent *registered* predators from obtaining accounts, not the ones who've never been caught. We can't even get the terrorist no-fly database right, so I have ZERO confidence that social networks could ever be predator-free.

So, for your children's accounts, use the trust system to your advantage by only marking yourself and other trusted adults/groups as contacts that can either contact your kid directly or that can be used as trust verification contacts. Doesn't solve the uncle/teacher/priest problem, but should be a perfectly reasonable way to keep your kids from being contacted by people you don't know.

Sales/support people? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325595)

As in, you can't send me an email unless someone *I* know vouches for you. Or someone they know, etc., with degrees of separation up to my level of comfort.
How would turning e-mail into a darknet (like Freenet or the Nintendo friend code system) be useful for people whose job involves handling sales or support requests from the general public?

Re:Sales/support people? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325833)

Commercial use of email? What are you thinking? That is how the whole problem got started in the first place - letting commercial money-grubbing interests onto the Internet.

Why would any business need to send an email? When most right-thinking people just block it anyway?

From: customer; To: business (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326973)

Why would any business need to send an email?
In response to an e-mail message sent by the customer.

Re:New Facebook App: Your Papers, Sir (1)

giafly (926567) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325651)

The solution to social networks and spam is the same: *trust networks* ... With 3-4 degrees of separation, the people allowed to contact me via IM, email, telephone, etc. would likely include almost EVERYONE who would legitimately need to contact me, while including no spammers.
I legitimately need to contact you to say you're wrong.
  1. There are many "good citizen" reasons to contact people
  2. how do you get through life while refusing to talk to people you don't trust, like - say - government officials, or your grouchy neighbor?

What the poster doesn't get about risk assessement (1)

GeneralTao (21677) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325217)

While it's true you're far more likely to run into trouble riding in a car than posting on facebook, the point of talking to your kids about the risks "out there" is to educate them about being safe and smart in situations where their judgment plays a big part in the risk. ie: it's not a waste of time to teach your kids to make a difference where they actually CAN. That's why driver's ed courses don't spend much time on "here's what you do if you're driving along and a meteorite crashes on you."

It's stupid to call it an educated decision to observe that your chances of getting hurt on facebook are small and so you shouldn't bother teaching your kids Internet safety. Regardless of the comparative statistics, it's the role your children's decisions play in their likelihood of getting hurt that matters here.

Remember When... (3, Insightful)

tecker (793737) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325233)

Facebook was primarily developed for College students.

It was a college rite of passage. Hey you got a [name]@[college].edu address? You can get on facebook! It allowed us to organize, link, and share information on the latest changes on our friends and where the next House-Party-To-Be-Busted would be. It was like an invasion of privacy and our "Check out me doing beer pong AND IM 19" pictures when employers began snooping around. Myspace for the masses. Facebook for the collegiate elite.

Then they opened it up. HIGH SCHOOLERS! Aw crap. Well there goes the site. But the new freshmen had fun. They could link and get in to their old circles in HS. Life settled in to the "new" site.

Then they opened it to specific "work" networks. Again the college students complained but hey now the alumni could say connected. So we let it go.

Then the worst thing of all. EVERYONE! Are you breathing? You can have a facebook account. And thus the "cool" site became the new predator site. LOCK IT DOWN! Those days of "hey i haven't seen them in over a year since that one class" disappeared. Now you have to be friends to see other profile. Believe me, we now have speakers come in and tell us that employers are trolling and so are the colleges. Facebook died a slow death. Sure we still use it and my campus (KSU) has an average daily use of 2 hours per student (someone has got to be throwing that number) but its not the same. It really is the new stalker net.

BTW. WHY are parents letting their 13 year olds on a site like this?

Re:Remember When... (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326313)

They aren't "letting" their 13 year olds on the site.

It's that they aren't STOPPING them from getting on the site.

You know, that whole "active participation in the kid's life" and "proper adult supervision" thing that so many kids lack.

Does anyone have a doubt? (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325237)

... that most children's lives would be ruined if they are allowed unsupervised, not talked about with parents, interactions with outside world and Internet in particular? Go ahead and send your 13 year old daughter in the bar with your ID and then blame the owner if she spends the night with a patron. Now read your whole spam folder and imagine what will happen to someone who lacks critical thinking and believes in claims in every message. Are you going to go after gmail, Facebook or whatever neutral service provider?

This doesn't mean you have to stand over your childrens' shoulders all the time. Just ask them how they spent their day and make it a point to discuss, not punish things you don't agree with.

Myspace == Facebook? (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325291)

I always thought of Facebook as the more higher class social network full of more mature people rather then the dross of 13 year old cam whores that infect Myspace.

Am I wrong in my assertions or is it that Facebook is just going down the tubes? I don't really use it that much so I don't know.

Well, I have a MySpace account (1)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325381)

Granted I'm a "Johnny Come Lately" to that whole thing, but I'm really not seening the "dross of 13 year olds". I see a lot of people closer to my age.

Maybe MySpace was like that once, but I think the grown-ups are starting to discover that it's good for things like "networking" and keeping up with friends that have dispersed all over the place.

Re:Myspace == Facebook? (1)

captain_dope_pants (842414) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325453)

I read an article in the computer press that said "MySpace is for morons, Facebook is for morons with a degree". Bit of an oxymoron with the facebook statement but I know what he means. TBH /what/ is point of them? It's like "Hey, look at me, I've got a page on the intarweb ( but I'm too stupid to actually write my own code )".

I can see how /some/ people can use social networking to easily further their "product" eg musicians posting MP3s but the sites are mostly full of drivel.
Mind you most of the internet's full of drivel :)

Re:Myspace == Facebook? (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326215)

You see, these sites are for social networking. This means that your profile, Facebook apps, the whole lot of it is not meant to serve as a superb personal web-site but to keep you in-touch-with/humorously-harassing your friends.

You know, friends? Oh, wait, this is Slashdot. You probably think I'm talking about people with green blobs next to their screen-names, don't you?

Comma Usage (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325309)

There are three questions that any politician attacking social networking sites, should have to answer, in order to be specific about what they want.

It might be a good idea, to let somebody, else proofread your essay before publishing, it on a site with thousands, of readers.

Re:Comma Usage (1)

HarvardAce (771954) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326803)

It might be a good idea, to let somebody, else proofread your essay before publishing, it on a site with thousands^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hmillions, of readers^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hgrammar nazis.

A matter of responsibilities. (1)

ale_ryu (1102077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325313)

I think parents are responsible for their kids protection, I mean, nowadays some parents expect TV and Internet to raise their children for them, and then they complain about the dangers of such things.
I mean, it's true, internet is full of dangers to kids, but those dangers can be eliminated with some adequate parenting, after all, it's easier than making the whole internet safe for children, isn't it?

new york state (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21325373)

New York is fast becoming the pussy capital of the world. All these politicians want to ban this and regulate that and TAX the fuck out of their subjects. Fuck new york and fuck cuomo.

We are the wrong sex to understand (4, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325677)

Slashdots population is male, the number of females can be counted on the fingers of a clumsy lumberjack. As such it is hard for us to understand just how often females are the subject of sexual advances. I as a male can open a facebook page and never ever get an invititation for anything. A female only has to give the barest hint that she is female and BAM, she is hit upon.

Most recent example was in a MMORPG raid, I let it slip that our raid leader has a sexy voice, she does, as a motivation to get people to use voice chat. Oh boy. MISTAKE!

That was followed by a rather lengthy lecture by her and another friend on the realities of being a female in this world. I am old enough to know about cramps and lots of other stuff I think should be on a need to know basis (hint, I don't need to know) but they shocked me by just how constant and unrelenting it is. We all know about the teacher who offers better grade for eheh, homework. But as males we think that is something funny, but also rare. They both claimed that it was not, that on a night out it was not uncommon for them to be approached for sex for money. That if it becomes known in a game they are females they ALWAYS get hit upon. Sometimes perfectly nice, sometimes a bit too much and at times pure abuse but most important ALWAYS.

But there are slashdot females here, and they can no doubt better describe it, my point is that we as males cannot really judge just how much of a problem this is. Because what was also clear is that it is not the majority of men who harass, unless you yourselve are one of the people who prey on teens you just can't understand how constant the treath is.

Young girls are also vulnerable, not all, but some are in desperate need for anyone to give them attention and the predators out there are casting a wide enough net they will find some poor girl (or even boy) who is receptive. Again this is not something men can understand. If you as a teenage boy had a older female who wished to initiate you in the pleasures of love, you would have thanked god on your bair knees. You would have been a stud. When a few years ago that story broke about the highschooler and female teacher, who among us didn't think, "wish I had a teacher like that".

With social networking sites we have created spot where vulnerable people can expose themselves in an extremely direct manner to those who wish to take advantage of them, in total privacy.

Chat up a teen at my sportclub and you will get yourselve thoroughly beaten up. Do it online, and who is to know.

What I want to make clear is that it is NOT something we as males can accurately judge, if you really want to know, try finding a female in your circle of friends who has an account on such a site and ask to read the responses she gets. I read the logs she had of an old WoW session. I wouldn't say I was shocked but if you get pissed of at goldspammers, you ain't see nothing yet. She and I think other girls are there in game to play a game, not to get hit up on. It wasn't even the abuse or hatred that was shocking, but just how constant it was.

Women don't mind if you look at their tits, they take pride in them, they want to be sexy. What women object to is that men ONLY ever look at their tits. ALL men ALL the time.

Social networking sites remove even the most basic controls of civilized society, you can see this in the catch-a-predator series, perfectly normal men (hetero males are attracted to young females, it is nature, if you are not, you are gay) who know they shouldn't be doing this can't seem to resist. On the other hand we got young kids (not just girls are preyed upon) some of them vulnerable, all without any supervision of any sort. Problems are bound to occur.

Are they worse then what happened in earlier days? I remember a faint story from my childhood about a gym instructor who was let go. We got warnings about strange men hanging around the school, so it is nothing new. BUT I was also male. Those warnings didn't really apply to me, but as I learned from my female friends, to women those threaths are very real. One of them was assaulted as a teen, it sort of came out then but showed how different the world of women and men is. How many men do you know who have been raped? How many women? Look up the stats, they may never speak of it, but if you got a mother, a sister, a daughter and a wife, one of them has been assaulted.

I am not saying we can do anything about it, short of a massive change in our culture, but it is a little bit too easy to say as males who are safe from this that the problem is over estimated. Really, find a female who plays a mmo or other online game and observe their chat log if they let their sex slip out.

MMORPG's got a fairly large percentage of female players but most have learned to keep quiet about it.

Sites like facebook and myspace are different. Should they be policed? I don't know if that is even possible, but we certainly could educate young people better and make it a part of the site.

But when I read slashdotters who claim there ain't a problem, I fear they are very very wrong. We only hear about the most tragic cases, not the unheard of victims who got lured and abused and carry that silently with them for the rest of their lives.

I don't have a solution, not sure there can be one, but lets not just ignore it either because it doesn't affect us.

Oh Good... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#21325831)

...another storm in a teacup Facebook story. It must be Monday.

Politicians don't care about solving problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21326013)

Don't you get it? Politicians only want to appear like they are doing something, so they jump on the most popular bandwagon that will get them the most publicity and air time. They want to APPEAR to be doing something about something that is basically completely unenforceable.

Why not do something more substantial except drag people in front of cameras and admonish them, but offer no real solutions? Thats' because they just don't care.

Different spin on the issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21326095)

How does a person with an interest in teens arrange a hookup while avoiding predators, such as law enforcement agents trolling for chumps? If this problem can be solved, so can most of the others with social networking systems.

Similarly, if you cannot have any real confidence that the person at the other end of a chat is real how do you avoid exposing yourself? You could be lured into a chat about some really great weed that you just bought only to be visited by Officer Friendly the next day.

The first thing is to assume that illegal activities are going on and that everyone isn't just all nice and innocent. You can move from there to either attempt to hinder illegal or questionable conversations and contacts (impossible) or you can choose to facilitate them between people with confirmed identities.

For example, if you meet someone in a bar who is acting like an ass you can, without knowing their name, know never to go near this person again. Their identity - the important parts of it - is known to you. Once this person makes a serious social error everyone knows not to bother with them and nothing can prevent them from being ostracized. Word will spread about this person's "identity" and errors to prevent others from having to learn the hard way.

This basic element of social interaction applies in all cases and is something humans have dealt with since the beginning of time. It is something observable in groups of animals.

Today this is not possible online. What we have are "flexible identities" which can be shed at the drop of a hat. This means it is no longer possible to recognize friends and identify persons that we would rather not have contact with. Some would say this is a benefit, especially those that are socially awkward and are excluded in real life because of their social missteps. Unfortunately, this enables people to "burn" an identity online quickly and easily and move on to a new victim with a new identity.

For example, Ted Bundy moved around a lot. He took advantage of a lack of communication between his targets and potential targets. Girls that did not recognize him as someone that recently killed were lured into close contact and got killed themselves. Ted was able to do this partly because of modern transportation systems that made evading identification much easier than it would have been 50 or 100 years before.

What we have done with online communities is to shield people from basic patterns that have evolved over thousands of years to protect them from predators. It would seem far more sensible to construct such communities in a manner so as to enhance the patterns that have evolved rather than to destroy them.

What the politicians are trying to accomplish (1)

daveo0331 (469843) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326129)

If you think these guys are trying to protect children or whatever, you're missing the point. The point of attacking Facebook and other such sites is to be seen on TV and the newspaper appearing to be concerned about "the children". This is because there are people that will vote for them based on this. Even if a politician is smart enough to know they're not accomplishing anything, they'll still do this because they want the appearance of "doing something." They're indifferent as to whether or not any substantive change actually occurs on Facebook -- in fact, they probably don't really want the problem to go away because if it did they wouldn't be able to trot the same issue out next election cycle.

Reasons (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326359)

You want to be the cool Mom? You don't have to let your kids do everything, just have reasons for stuff!
Holy crap, that's the best piece of parenting advice I've heard in a long time.

The goal of parenting is, by the time the kids are 18, they're prepared to make responsible decisions in the real world without relying on Mom & Dad. That means not just teaching them to do things or not to do things, but teaching them how to decide for themselves whether to do things or not to do things, so that when they're in a new situation, they can figure out how to handle it.

One great thing about giving your kids reasons for stuff is, it helps you (as a parent) to consciously understand what your reasons are, instead of just relying on instinct. If you have a rule that your child isn't allowed to do something, and they ask why, you should be able to give them the reasons why. If you can't, then maybe it's not such a good rule! Also, if your child can figure out ways to address these issues, you can negotiate a reasonable solution that makes both of you happy, while at the same time teaching your child valuable negotiation and reasoning skills.


sh3l1 (981741) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326547)

I hope they do something IMMEDIATEL!

Facebook is publish by default (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326847)

Everything you put in seems open to the world, this is fine if its "what i did today" it's expected really. But when you register with your email, you _do_not_ expect that to be published, which it is(!) even if it is represented as an image. I find this quite frankly amazing.

Political Histrionics driven by fear and ignorance (1)

leereyno (32197) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326901)

The only protection that the young have against sexual predators is themselves. This is true on the street and on the internet. Kids and teenagers who don't know which way is up, who are not aware of the existence of sick and evil individuals who want to basically rape them (if they are lucky), are at risk of being victimized by said individuals. It doesn't matter if they're wandering down the street or wandering into a chat room.

In todays world there are no children. There are only the aware and informed, and the ignorant.

When politicians start in with their histrionics, it is only a ploy to assuage the fear of ignorant and superstitious voters who demand that someone "do something" about problems that can only be solved in the home, by parents who are honest with their children. When parents try to "protect" their children from finding out about the evils of the world, in order to preserve their "innocence," they are only setting their kids up to be the next round of victims.

So the next time you read a story about some kid being enticed online, ask yourself why that kid was so ill prepared and uninformed that he or she was susceptible in the first place. You might be tempted to say that it was because they were young, that this made them inherently vulnerable. Human children in ages past were capable of hunting for food, knowing which types of plants were poisonous and which were safe to gather, and how to avoid or fend off predators. Yet now here today with modern education, not to mention modern nutrition, children and young people are somehow supposed to be completely helpless in the face of danger. I don't buy that and you shouldn't either.

If our children are helpless it is only because we infantilize them and constrain them to roles and states of being that render them helpless. Mushroom management (keep them in the dark, feed them shit, and watch them grow) might work for peons in the workplace, but it is no way to raise children.

Inconvenience (1)

truesaer (135079) | more than 6 years ago | (#21326985)

One of the things Bennett has always failed to understand is that just making something inconvenient will oftentimes prevent people from doing it. Yes, there is a way to get on a high school network after the "must be confirmed by an existing student" change, if you really really want to get on that network. But there are plenty of perverts who will either just give up or go find a way to get off that has a lower opportunity cost.
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