Facebook rightly remains under pressure over its refusal to adopt a panic button to alert law enforcement agencies of potential child abuse. The social networking site has firmly set its face against the adoption of the ‘report abuse' facility developed by the Child Exploitation Online Protection Centre (CEOP) despite significant adverse criticism. The shocking rape and murder of teenager Ashleigh Hall has put the safety measures of social networking sites into stark focus. The 17 year old was lured by convicted double rapist Peter Chapman by creating a bogus Facebook profile using the picture of a teenager.
Jim Gamble, the Chief Executive of CEOP has asserted that just 3% of the reports of child grooming relating to Facebook are being received from the company directly. CEOP states that the vast majority of people are reporting allegations of online grooming and child abuse on Facebook to them via other websites and social networking sites. I simply cannot comprehend why Facebook is not willing to accede to the reasonable request of CEOP on this issue and adopt their ‘panic' button so that reports of child abuse are made to them directly without delay. Other social networking sites have adopted this approach, what makes Facebook so different and why do they think they know better?
I wrote to Facebook seeking answers to a number of questions, including why they believe that their child abuse reporting procedures are more effective than the CEOP report abuse facility and why they appear to think they are in a better position to judge the validity or seriousness of reports than the professionally trained officers at the relevant law enforcement agencies. Whilst I was initially told I would receive a speedy answer, two weeks on I have yet to receive a substantive response.
I think Facebook have made a bad judgement on this issue and I hope that time and reflection will enable them to realise this. If not, I know I won't be the only one pressing for answers.