A dad in Northern Ireland, presumably fed up with not being able to control his underage daughter, is suing facebook for negligence after his 12-year-old uploaded nude photos of herself along with her address and the name of her school. He claims the site has no way of verifying user’s ages causing his daughter to be put at “risk of sexual and physical harm” from pedophiles.
According to the man’s lawyer, Hilary Carmichael, the photos of the 12-year-old depict her “heavily made-up, she appears in a provocative pose and she appears much older than her 12 years.” The Dublin Herald reports that the writ filed by the man claims his daughter received sexually explicit texts and other messages from adult men asking her to post more photos of herself online.
The girl suffers from behavioral problems and lives in a voluntary care home. Her has made efforts to keep his daughter off facebook in the past, shutting down a previous account she had opened, but she was able to open another account to replace it.
Facebook says it is committed to removing inappropriate material and indecent photos once a complaint has been made. More to the point, they also claim that any accounts opened by under-13’s will be shut down if reported via a form provided on the site.
Facebook responded to questions from ZDNet, saying,
Facebook is currently designed for two age groups (13-17 year olds and 18 and up, and we provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provided. If someone reports an underage account to use then we will remove it, and use back-end technology to try and prevent them signing up again. However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age…
The facebook rep concludes with, “Just as parents are always teaching and reminding kids how to cross the road safely, talking about internet safety should be just as important a lesson to learn.”
Oh no he didn’t. Did he just say it was the parents’ fault?
Yes, it is a parent’s responsibility to teach their children about being safe online, but it also seems like there should be more control available to parents over what sites their children can join or, at the very least, some kind of system that could help enforce the age limits of certain sites.
It is a an incredibly complicated issue and one that we can only hope is resolved before something like this happens again. In my opinion, even though this situation is atypical, I am chalking it up as one more reason to not let my children use facebook until they are old enough to make well-reasoned decisions for themselves, i.e. older than 13.
Photo: © Angus – Fotolia.com
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