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Facebook Ignores Complaints about Sexual Predators

Published on: 24.09.07
Source: Press release of the New York Office of the Attorney General

NEW YORK, NY (September 24, 2007) - Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced today that his office is investigating Facebook over representations the company makes about safety measures in place on its website. In a letter accompanying a subpoena for documents, Cuomo warned the company that a preliminary review conducted by his office revealed significant defects in the site’s safety controls and the company’s response to complaints - deficiencies that stand in contrast to the reassuring statements made on the website and by company officials.

In recent weeks, investigators from Cuomo's office have conducted a number of undercover tests of Facebook's safety controls and procedures. Posing as underage users, the investigators found they were repeatedly solicited by adult sexual predators on Facebook and could easily access a wide range of pornographic images and videos. Even more disturbingly, Facebook often did not respond, and at other times was slow to respond, to complaints lodged by the investigators - posing as parents of underage users - asking the site to take action against predators who had harassed their children.

'My office is concerned that Facebook's promise of a safe website is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints,' Cuomo said. 'Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a website that is aggressively marketed as safe.'

During the course of our review, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) set up several undercover Facebook profiles representing users between twelve and fourteen years old. Consistent with its current open policy, Facebook did not require verification of a high school email address or any other identifying information in order to register the account.

Within days of opening these accounts, the OAG received numerous sexual solicitations from adults sent to several of the underage profiles, including:

l 'u look too hot....... can i c u online (webcam)? im avl at . . .'
l 'i'd love to get off on cam for you hun ; P'
l 'do you like sex?'
l 'if u want call me [number deleted] or u can give me ur number?'
l 'call me if u want to do sex with me [number deleted] ok'

Underage profiles set up by the OAG received several other solicitations of a more graphic nature.
The complete press release to be found under http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/2007/sep/sep24a_07.html




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