Facebook is the Wild Wild West

Oct 23, 2013

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Over 1,000 criminal offenses were linked to Facebook last year, according to a recent report. (Source) And that’s just the crimes that were reported. One statistic says that fewer than 1 in 5 cyberbullying incidents are reported to law enforcement. (Source)  That means that there could be as much as five times more crime on Facebook than is being reported.

 Did you know?

  • Kids spend more than seven and a half hours a day on digital devices. (Source)
  • 88% of parents are aware that their teens communicate with people they don’t know offline. (Source)
  • 30% of teens worry their online behavior will get them in trouble at home. (Source)
  • Over half of pre-teens and teens have been bullied online; most don't tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs. (Source)
  • Cyberbullying victims are more likely to have low self-esteem and to consider self-harm or suicide. (Source)
  • One in five 10-17-year-olds have been solicited for sex online; 75% didn't tell parents. (Source)
  • Predators found a victim's "likes" and "dislikes” online in 82% of cases. (Source)
  • 65% of predators found info on home and school and 25% of predators found a victim's whereabouts at a specific time. (Source)
  • 1 in 20 kids say they've met up with a stranger they met online. (Source)
  • 1 in 3 teens have sent or received a sexually explicit message. (Source)
  • 46% of kids 11-17 years old say a friend has received a sexual picture. (Source)

There are numerous examples of criminals conducting crime on Facebook, some of it by professional criminals, and some of it by naïve teens who haven’t thought about the consequences. It’s easier to find victims or get away with a crime when you’re hiding behind a screen.

 What are these criminals up to?

  • A registered sex offender used Facebook to befriend a 14-year-old girl whom he later convinced to meet up with him. Eventually, he asked her for sex.
  • Teen boys posted nude photos of a classmate on a social network after receiving the image via text message. 
  • After a bad divorce, a husband posted inappropriate photos of his ex-wife on Facebook.
  • A young girl was physically threatened by her “friends” if she didn’t put nude photos of herself on Facebook.
  • Teen girls in Virginia were kidnapped to be put into the sex trade after being lured to a local shopping mall by gang members posing as "friends" online.

When asked about the danger of criminals on Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder, stated, “There is no place for harassment on Facebook but, unfortunately, a small minority of malicious individuals exist online, just as they do offline.” (Source)

Unfortunately, that is true. There will always be people who take advantage of good things for their own selfish purposes. It’s practically impossible to find these criminals, even on Facebook, because they often use false identities.

 

Actions to Take

 

  • First, talk with your child about online risks. Only 50% of kids say parents talk with them about this.  (Source)
  • Monitor your child' time online. 44% of kids say their parents monitor them online. (Source)
  • Check your child's Facebook profile. Only 30% of parents check on a child’s social network profile. (Source)
  • Set ground rules. About 90% of kids say it’s okay for parents to set rules for phone use. (Source)

Knowing about your child’s online activity and creating an open dialogue are great places to start. But, you have to take action.  

To protect your child from criminals on social networks, including Facebook, consider using parental monitoring software such as Net Nanny Social. This software allows a parent to monitor a child’s friends, pics, and comments on social networks, and alerts to dangers they may not otherwise be aware of.