Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Facebook and Porn - our children need protection

Hardcore Pornography on Facebook 



 A newly developed program has identified millions of Facebook pages containing hardcore pornography or links to sexually explicit material. And a new Internet browser for iPad can prevent children accessing them. There are millions of pages on Facebook which contain pornographic images or links to sites containing videos and images that are not suitable for children. This hardcore pornography is as easy to access as pictures of your friends’ cats.

 Every child and young teen with a Facebook profile could be exposed to this material, which is used by pornographers to reach out to customers and attract new followers. Facebook prohibits all such explicit content on its site and it forbids links to commercial sites containing pornography, but MetaCert’s research shows the company is failing to enforce its policy, and doing so on a large scale. 

Many parents are unaware of the danger of their children being exposed to pornography on Facebook but now, for the first time, an Internet security company has developed software which can pick out and block access to Facebook pages containing porn. 

The product is aimed at parents who are OK with their kids using Facebook but want to eliminate sexually explicit content from the equation. It has been developed by MetaCert, leaders in providing a safe online environment for children. 

MetaCert CEO Paul Walsh said: “Parents want their children to use the Internet but, at the same time, there is a lot of pornographic material out there they would rather they didn’t see. Facebook’s policy is to remove pornographic material that is drawn to their attention by users. Clearly a lot is not being reported.” A quick analysis using some basic search terms shines a light on the problem. Type ‘sex’ into Google.com by using the search phrase “site:facebook.com sex” and you get about 119,000,000 results. ‘Porn’ yields more than 84 million results and ‘pornstar’ about 12 million. 

 Porn sites and porn stars use Facebook to interact with their fans and users have developed networks to share information, images and experiences. Mr Walsh added: “If you carry out any of these searches and click on the images it is staggering what you will find. 

There is an enormous amount of pornographic imagery on Facebook, much of it very hard core in nature and until now there has been no real effective way to protect kids against it. “MetaCert has solved the problem by creating crawlers specially adapted for Facebook. The crawlers are busy monitoring and detecting and labeling explicit material. 

We have already labelled several hundreds of thousands of pages. That number is increasing every hour of every day.” John Carr is one of the world’s leading experts on child safety on the internet. He said: “I was astonished both by the nature of the images I saw on Facebook and by the volumes. The company really needs to up its game. 

The system of waiting for bad stuff to be reported is not working. Facebook need to get proactive.” MetaCert's new iPad browser blocks pornographic sites beyond the social networking realm. Using a more sophisticated approach than traditional parental control devices, MetaCert identified more than 700 million pages with pornographic material. It was an improvement on existing systems in that MetaCert does not block, for example, educational or medical websites simply because they mention the word “sex”. The system isn’t limited to English language-based pornography. 

It can identify material in several major languages including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, French, Spanish, Danish and German. “We’ve been working towards this for a long time,” said CEO Walsh. “We believe it is important that children have access to the wealth of information and experience that the Internet provides but pornography should not be part of that.” 

To download the MetaCert browser for iPad, visit http://metacert.com/ios