Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Today's News: Facebook's 'Pedophiles are people' page under attack


‘Pedophiles are people’ page puts Facebook under attack

By Marie Szaniszlo
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
http://www.bostonherald.com


A children’s advocacy group yesterday denounced Facebook for refusing to take down a controversial page featuring a disturbing photo of a young girl being followed down an alley by a man, with the caption “Pedophiles are people too.”

The page’s administrator has added “(Controversial Humor)” to the caption since the page was first reported in yesterday’s New York Post. But apart from the 25 people who had “liked” the photo by early last night, few people found it amusing.

“We should not be giving people like this an audience and a platform,” said Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children. “We cannot normalize this behavior. It is too devastating to children.”

In an email yesterday, a Facebook spokesman said pages or groups devoted to jokes, “even disgusting and distasteful ones,” do not violate the social network’s policies. “Where these groups make real threats or statements of hate, however, we will remove them,” the spokesman said.

“The challenge is Facebook doesn’t want to police Facebook,” said David Gerzof Richard, a professor of social media and marketing at Emerson College. “When they do it for one, they will have to do it for another and another. And compared to the number of people on Facebook, the number of (staff the company has) policing it is very small.”

But Max Wolff, senior analyst at Greencrest Capital, said removing the page, however it was intended, should be a priority, particularly after Facebook’s stock hit an all-time low of $18.75 Monday — half its original share price of $38 in May — and after news surfaced yesterday that Peter Thiel, one of the company’s earliest investors and a member of its board, has sold most of his shares in Facebook.

“What this company badly needs to do is rebuild public faith, and to have this kind of thing in their virtual public square is absolutely deleterious to their desirability,” Wolff said. “Facebook is a place with a disproportionate number of young people, and parents have had longstanding concerns about predation online, and this certainly does not allay those fears.”

Article URL: http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1061154905