Facts for parents about ‘Facebook child porn ring’

You may have heard a news story about a “Facebook child-abuse images ring” that has been reported mostly in Australia over the past eight months. It made headlines again today because the ringleader, a 45-year-old registered sex offender in the UK named Ian Green, confessed to 24 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children” and “has been jailed for four years,” the BBC reports. These are images of children being sexually abused, so this is an abhorrent crime story, but parents don’t need to be swayed by any news story that might suggest (the BBC’s does not) that this international network of criminals represented any threat to young Facebook users. As child pornography networks have done with earlier Internet technologies such as newsgroups and peer-to-peer file-sharing, what this one did was hide their content in private groups on Facebook. As the BBC reports, no one could access that content without showing their “credentials”: usually child-abuse images of their own. So no one on Facebook who was not a member or potential member of this child-porn ring could’ve been exposed to that content, which became evidence in the criminal investigation. Facebook says it worked closely with law enforcement throughout the international investigation and “provided information that lead to the 11 arrests.” The BBC reports that the investigation “involved the FBI and police in Canada, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa.” [ConnectSafely.org, which I co-direct, is a member of Facebook's Safety Advisory Board.]


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