As promised I am now updating my previous blog My Family And The CyberBully. Firstly I would like to say thanks on behalf of myself and my wife for all the messages of support we have had during this time, it is very much appreciated. Secondly I have been shocked at some of the stories people have been kind enough to share with me about some of their instances of what has happened to them and their children whilst in social networking sites and I have decided that its time for a change in the law. So taking this into consideration I will be starting a Facebook group which I shall chair and run if people wish to add their support to this. More of that later though, firstly let me update all of you as to what has happened since Thursday.
The Facebook page has now been taken down. We are lucky in the fact that we knew who had set it up and that the school took it so seriously. It is thanks to them that the page has now been removed and not because of the police or Facebook themselves. So my thanks to the school for their help and support with this. I dont want to think about what would have have happened if the school didnt take this as seriously, or more importantly we didnt know who had done this.However I am severely disappointed in the police and Facebook and below I will explain why.
Their attitude was, in my opinion disgraceful. I got a phone call back from an Inspector who like the first officer I spoke to didn't take it seriously as he saw it as two 10 year old's having a 'spat'. He came to this conclusion because he didn't know how to use Facebook, which he freely admitted to me. This, in my opinion wasn't two 10 years olds having a 'spat'. This was a 10 year old who had taken my daughters identity and set up a Facebook page, stole photo's from my wife's profile, changed my daughters age to 20 and then started to message people we didn't know. How is that a 'spat'?. How about the law being broken? How about the communications act 2003?. The police have special departments set up to do deal with things like this, or do they only do this when they can be bothered?. If, and thank god it didn't, anything had happened to my daughter I would have used the full force of the law to take them on.
They have to take this seriously, there were other children involved not just my daughter. They had two extremely worried parents who came to them for help and they did NOTHING. No that's not true, they advised us to APPROACH the parent. Unbelievable isn't it? Utterly disgraceful more like it!. I didn't want the child arrested, all I wanted was them to pay her a visit so as they could get the page removed. Not advise me to challenge the parent myself. There are children out there that are suffering right now because of cyberbullying, there are parents who need help. So stop trying to meet your political targets and do what we pay our taxes for HELP US WHEN WE NEED YOU THE MOST. Until the police start taking this seriously it will continue to carry on.
I am a huge fan of Facebook. It has allowed me to reconnect with old friends I haven't seen in years. It has also allowed me to meet people with similar interests. It has allowed me to publish this blog on it. It has also frustrated me beyond belief the past week as well.
We sent Facebook an email to the following email address firstname.lastname@example.org on Monday night. I got a reply yesterday (5 days later) to tell me that that email address is no longer available and I need to find another way of reporting it. Why? Someone had obviously read the email it was titled Fraudulent Account Set Up In A 10 Year Olds Name. Yet they did nothing about it but send me an email telling me to report it somewhere else. Have you ever tried to contact Facebook? Have you ever tried to contact them about something? Its a nightmare to find out what you want. They make it incredibly difficult to do this. Why? What are they hiding from?. Ive seen the Red Button campaign that people have tried to get Facebook to accept, Ive also seen the press reports of them saying they are not going to do this. Its time Facebook started taking some responsibility for what they have created. Its time that they started to care. I know its free to use but that does not allow them to hide behind this when their site is so easy to abuse. So as I said at the start of this blog I am prepared to start a group for what I believe Facebook needs to change. If you agree with me let me know and Ill run the group all you've got to do is tell me you are interested. Sound fair?
So here are the 5 things and the reasons why they need to be changed.
1: Anyone under the age of 16 that wants a Facebook page has to have their parent set this up and the parents page must be linked to this and the child will be unable to block that parent.
This will allow the parent to make sure their child is safe at all times. They may not like it but when did our children ever agree with everything we asked them to do? We are not saying we will check it every day but if we see something that isn't right it will allow us to approach the subject with our children wont it?. This cannot be a bad thing surely? After all in this day and age of the Internet there are some very sick people out there and it us our job to protect our children and keep them safe.
2: All photographs to be protected from copying and pasting onto other peoples pages.
This surely cannot be that difficult to do can it? We post photographs on Facebook because we want to share them with people that we know, and for them to enjoy in special moments that we have in our lives. They are not there for people to abuse and for people to do with as they wish.
3:Age verification process.
This one would stop all the paedophiles from being able to pretend they are young children. If you want a Facebook page and are under 16 by using the first rule this would eliminate this issue. If you are over 16 there are many ways of doing this and its time Facebook did something about it. If you don't want your age to be checked then what are you hiding?. No age verification no Facebook page, simple isn't it.
4: Parent responsibility.
Being a parent is more than being a sperm donor or an egg carrier. It is about nurturing and developing that life that you created. Its about making sure they are safe. So if your child is using Facebook for cyberbulling, and you would know this because of point 1, and you did nothing about this, I want you to be cautioned by the police. That's right I want you arrested and dealt with. Your child, your responsibility. No more 'Oh I didn't know what they were doing?' Why didn't you know? or perhaps you didn't care would be the correct answer. Stop hiding behind excuses for your child's awful behaviour. Stop making excuses and start taking responsibility for what they are doing.
5: Reporting Abuse.
What is Facebook scared of that they don't make it easy to report issues? What are they hiding?. I want a link on every page linking to the government website for reporting cyberbulliing or paedophile grooming. I also want a link that Facebook actually read when reporting abuse and an answer form a HUMAN BEING within 48 hours to tell me that it has been dealt with. I also want Facebook to TELL ME if my child has been reported. They can do this by emailing me and giving me a specific amount of time to reply. If I don't they can then report me to the police for failing to control my child.
These 5 steps I believe will make Facebook a safer place for all of us to use. The good PR they would get from this would be amazing for them and would make them seem like they cared about the people using their site. It would also more importantly make our children safer. Its time Facebook started to look at the things people are doing in their name. Ill happily set the group up and run it all I need is your support. If we can get a Number 1 single through Facebook then surely we can do this. I owe it my daughter to make sure this never happens again. I'm no campaigner, I'm an ordinary bloke, a family man, as someone once said 'Bad things happen when good people stand by and do nothing'. I'm not prepared to stand by anymore. If there are other things you think I should add please to tell me if I'm wrong then tell me and Ill fight this on my own. Deep down though I know I'm right, and so I hope, you do too and will support me.