“The Internet is the number one destination for pedophiles because they believe that technology grants these criminals anonymity.” That’s a quote from Thomas Harrington, the FBI’s Executive Assistant Director for Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch on August 2, 2010. And given the latest news from FOX, Mr. Harrington’s statement couldn’t be more dead-on.
Bear with me, but according to the FOX article posted today, the world’s largest pro-pedophilia advocacy group, NAMBLA (The North American Man/Boy Love Association), has been using Facebook to connect with its members throughout the world. Granted, the groups/pages have recently been removed from Facebook due to the media attention, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that FoxNews.com found hundreds of links to NAMBLA’s website, and 87 NAMBLA groups (fake and real) on Facebook.
Some Facebook pages showed children as young as 4 and 5, according to FoxNews’ research. One page “features a photo of a man being kissed on the cheek by a small child. Its description reads: ‘We are the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Our sole purpose is to push forward the concept that a consenting man (18+) and a consenting minor (-18) can have a sexual and loving relationship legally.’”
Hemanshu Nigam, co-chairman of President Obama’s Online Safety Technology Working Group and a member of the board of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, “’This is just the downright filthiest of society setting up on Facebook in a public way, and the question is, ‘Why is Facebook allowing this?'”. A valid question for anyone wondering why NAMBLA has existed as long as it has on Facebook (remember: 87 groups and 100s of links).
In response to an email from FoxNews.com, a spokesman from Facebook said “Facebook is highly self-regulating, and users can and do report content that they find questionable or offensive. Our team of investigations professionals reviews these reports, removes content that violates our policies, and escalates to law enforcement as necessary.” Moderation and regulation aside, what about the groups on Facebook that have been protesting against NAMBLA? Have their voices gone unheard, or are they simply being ignored? Another valid question, especially considering Facebook’s email response to FoxNews.
Most people would find this news shocking, and they’d probably wonder exactly how a group like this can even exist in the first place—I know I did. According to FoxNews, NAMBLA members are protected by their First Amendment rights. As a form of free speech, advocates are able to freely express their feelings that boy/man relationships are “natural”, and the only reason these relationships are currently frowned upon in society is because of malicious consent laws which aim to “harm” young people. Michelle Collins of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said, “Thinking or advocating for adult-child sex is protected by the First Amendment, but committing acts of adult-child sex is illegal. The challenge for law enforcement is identifying when something goes from free speech to a crime being committed”.
Laws aside, the fact is that Facebook allowed this to happen. They can say that they don’t condone groups/members like NAMBLA on Facebook as much as they want, but when it takes national media attention to get rid of the problem, it’s kind of hard to believe that Facebook actually cares about the safety of their young members.
I think James Marsh, an attorney for victims of child sexual exploitation, summed it up perfectly when he said, “Facebook has a moral and public duty to monitor and stop this activity on their site. Hiding behind legal technicalities is not enough to be a good corporate citizen in the digital age,” Marsh said. “Facebook needs to put children ahead of profits and do what Congress and the American people expect — protect our kids from criminals like NAMBLA.”
Parents, don’t breathe a sigh of relief that you no longer have to worry because the NAMBLA group has been taken down. A few clicks away, your son or daughter may stumble upon the group dedicated to: “smoking crack and having unprotected sex with strangers”.