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News

Social networking and child safety

Intuitive Media : 05 February, 2009  (Technical Article)
Intuitive Media launches heavy criticism of MySpace and Facebook for failing to be proactive in protecting children from internet abuse
Intuitive Media, providers of safe social networks for children between the ages of 6 and 14, has slammed reports that MySpace and Facebook have any serious measures to keep children safe online.

In response to MySpace's reports of purging 90,000 sex offenders from its social network, Robert Hart, CEO of UK-headquartered Intuitive Media said: "That it took them two years to purge known names of sexual offenders listed in the public domain is in itself outrageous, but more worrying is that those websites can simply not protect against the offenders that haven't been caught yet trying to sexually solicit children whether on or offline. Many social websites make perfect breeding grounds for future offenders."

He goes on to say: "If you have both children and adults on a networking website it is almost impossible to police their interaction. Almost all online social networks have no ability to authenticate age and rely on an applicant's honesty. So it's not possible for them to prevent someone aged 11 posing as 18, or an adult of 35 posing as a 13 year old. Without identity verification no social network is safe for children."

Another huge problem as identified by the recent internet safety task force created by 49 state attorney generals in the USA and similarly by government studies In the UK and Europe is the threat posed by bullying online amongst children. Again, social networks are unable in most instances to monitor or action such behaviour unless reported. By then the damage is done.

"Parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on line. That is one protection. Schools also need to teach safe internet behaviour. But the real key to safe social networking for children lies with the provider of the service: with age identification and validation of its users along with well-thought out levels of mediation," says Hart, whose own social networks, with over a million members, have foolproof age verification, child authentication, and both automated and live mediation on the networks.

Hart continues: 'We are the only online safe haven for kids up to 14 where they can learn how to behave safely and respectfully online and when they later go off to the adult networks, they are much better equipped to look after themselves.'
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