Chelsea Schilling is a commentary editor and staff writer for WND and a proud U.S. Army veteran. She has also worked as a news producer at USA Radio Network and as a news reporter for the Sacramento Union.More ↓Less ↑
“It’s welcome news that a major news organization has notified the public about Facebook’s use by pedophiles, but I don’t believe it’s news at Facebook headquarters.”
That statement comes from Patrick Trueman, and he knows all about bringing child rapists and pornographers to justice – because he’s former chief of the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
As part of an undercover news investigation, WND used alias Facebook profiles and located dozens of child-porn images after “friending” many likely pedophiles and predators who trade thousands of pornographic photos on the social network.
During the investigation, entire Facebook predator communities were easily spotted. Child pornographers use groups as meet-up points to find others with similar interests. Many of the offenders would list similar interests on their profile pages, including terms such as “Thirteen,” “Lolita,” “Justin Bieber,” “incest” and “PTHC (preteen hard-core pornography).” Their activities might include “Receiving nude pics,” and they subscribe to explicit Facebook fan pages posted in plain sight. WND immediately reported images of child pornography and child sexual abuse to the FBI.
Twenty-five years ago, Trueman explained, pedophiles used a first-generation social-networking system known as the Usenet, which resembled a giant world-wide bulletin board system where people could start communities of any interest. He said they were largely unmonitored.
“Even then, the Justice Department was prosecuting pedophiles who were trading child pornography on Usenet sites, and the Department learned quickly that any unmonitored system would be used by criminals with pedophiles among the first to exploit them,” Trueman said. “Facebook should be deeply embarrassed not to have prevented such a use by filtering the use of those terms, and spending some of the billions of dollars they make to protect children.”
Attorney General Eric Holder
He added, “As a private business, they have the right to protect themselves and their users, they simply appear to have decided not to. If Chelsea Schilling hadn’t educated America, they would have been able to pretend that Facebook was not a magnet for illicit activity.”
Why, after 25 years, hasn’t anything been done about this problem?
Trueman said it’s because the one agency that could do something about it has refused to act and prosecute adult obscenity that promotes, seduces and invites viewers of such material to go ever deeper into deviant sexual activity.
“Instead, the Justice Department pursues only cases involving bestiality and gross deviancy,” he said. “This strategy has never worked in any other law enforcement context, and the attorney general knows this. This strategy has allowed the entire spectrum of illegal pornography so that now there are so many child pornography cases that they cannot all be prosecuted.”
Dawn Hawkins is executive director for Morality in Media, which has a website and Facebook page called “Porn Harms.” She told WND that the organization has witnessed the problem of child pornography on Facebook firsthand.
“In the last month, about five to 10 people join our page a day who have child pornography as their profile picture,” she said. “Many more join who have adult pornography as their profile picture. We always report them to that National Center’s CyberTipline, but we noticed last week when we started keeping track that many were not taken down right away.”
“There aren’t real controls [on child pornography] because Facebook hasn’t considered that to be a priority,” she told WND. “And if government agencies considered protection of children to be a priority, there would be controls and people would be thrown in jail permanently. That would slow down a lot of this.”
Asked what roles Facebook “likes” and groups such as “Incest,” “Kidsex Young,” “PTHC,” “10-17 Boy Sex,” “F–k young girls,” “F–k young boys,” etc., might play in providing validation to pedophiles on the social network, she replied:
We know what role validation plays. Everybody knows what validation is all about. If people around you are eating chocolate ice cream and you’ve been trying to not eat chocolate ice cream, you’re going to probably eat chocolate ice cream. The same thing is true of alcoholism and any other kind of activity. If you want to consider yourself to be normal as an alcoholic, you try and find other people who drink alcohol. You don’t go to an abstinence meeting and stay with people who never touch the stuff.
We all know that validation makes things more normal. That’s how human beings are.
These folks are transmitting ideas. Ideas are followed and acted on. Children are being destroyed. Families are being destroyed. And we act as if this is normal because we’ve been brought up in a society that doesn’t even remember what it is to be normal.
Ed Vitagliano, spokesman for the American Family Association, told WND his organization hopes Facebook will police its own explicit “likes” and groups where pedophiles find such validation:
This is an unprecedented problem for an unprecedented innovation. We’ve never had a Facebook before, and now we’re seeing some of the problems that arrive with every new technology.
We applaud the efforts being made by Facebook to try to prevent some of these vile images from being posted, and removing those pornographic photos that make it online. But we hope that political correctness does not hinder further efforts to ban groups altogether when they exist for the sole purpose of making available hideous images promoting incest, underage sex and other perversions.
If WND was able to uncover these individuals and groups with a rather simple investigative technique, surely Facebook can, too.
Time to protect kids from ‘deviant perverts’
Stacy Lynn Harp is president of Active Christian Media and host of On the Wall Radio. She holds a master’s degree in the field of clinical psychology and practiced as a marriage and family therapist for almost 10 years.
This recent Facebook investigation reminds me of what happened in 2006 when we approached internet giant Google about the numerous man-boy love blogs being promoted on their Internet blogging platform Blogger. I warned that these platforms are giving pedophiles an online place to network so they can commit more crimes and feel normal. At the time, Google refused to answer our calls about our concerns, but had no problem removing websites for communist China.
Since large corporations refuse to listen to their customers, it is imperative that parents, teachers and those working in the helping professions as therapists, counselors and nurses, become more informed about how to protect our children from falling into the hands of these deviant perverts.
Typically, less than 10 percent of online solicitations are ever reported to authorities, and even fewer ever come to justice. The pornography industry boasts at least a $20 billion industry worldwide while the Department of Justice and other private organizations that fight these crimes have a sliver of that income, so parental involvement is crucial for the protection of innocents.
Harp said research shows that the children at the highest risk of victimization come from families of divorce and often become lonely, spending more than 90 minutes a day online.
“It is crucial that parents spent quality time with their children and teach them how to protect their privacy online, and this means not only on Facebook, but also on other networks where cell phones are used and any form of technology is used,” she said.
The story spreads …
Meanwhile, the world is expressing outrage over the child pornography found on Facebook and inundating WND and other sites with comments and letters on the issue. At the time of this report, USA Today, the London Telegraph, London’s Daily Mail, the Huffington Post and OneNewsNow had published reports about the matter, and the topic is beginning to hit the television and radio circuit.
Part 3, “Investing in Facebook? You don’t have clean hands,” examined how the issue of child pornography on Facebook could come into play when the social network goes public, what investors are supporting when they invest in Facebook and how, as one expert put it, “they won’t have clean hands” if they ignore this issue.
On the topic of buying stock in the social network, Reisman has a question for potential investors: “You don’t invest in a product that is designed to do massive damage to women, children and society. Who invests in something like that?”
As for stopping the spread of child pornography on Facebook, Trueman said, “We can’t afford to follow the same failing strategy that has allowed pornography, including child pornography to flourish. Our police, federal agents, and anti-child pornography organizations have never worked so hard and seen so little progress.”
He offers a suggestion for the social network: “Facebook should immediately warn all parents and adults in a clear and explicit manner that the site is not suitable for anyone under 18 if they are not committed to policing their social network. But it’s unlikely that they will because the loss of those users will significantly impact the value of the company only days before their IPO.”
Reisman said she is not satisfied with simply allowing the FBI and the Justice Department to determine whether Facebook is doing enough to prevent child pornography from being uploaded.
“All of this should be blatantly illegal,” she said. “Those who run Facebook should face court action. Let’s let a jury decide. That’s what I want to see happen. I’ll come in and testify.”
(Editor’s note: WND reached out to more than a dozen advocacy groups that specialize in human-trafficking prevention and child protection for this story, as well as experts of various political persuasions. The experts in the story responded to an open invitation to interview on the subject.)