Sex Crimes Involving Social Media on the Rise
According to IndiaTimes, the number of sex crimes involving social networking sites has drastically increased. The number of crimes reported has soared in the last four years and reports have brought to light disturbing trends and practises adopted by offenders. In the last four years, the number of these types of crimes has more than quadrupled. Unfortunately, over 50 percent of the victims involved are children below 16 years of age. The article referred to a report that gathered data from the UK but the situation is reportedly similar in other parts of the world.
As stated in the Daily Mail UK, data released under the Freedom of Information Act provides insight into the situation. The data shows that paedophiles are increasingly using social networking sites to target young children. Additionally, some of the young victims only realize what happened after reading boastful messages left on social networking sites by their attackers. In an article in the UK Mirror, an officer stated that just as sex offenders wander the streets looking for vulnerable people, there’s no reason to think they don’t spend time online doing the same thing. The article also states that the vast majority of the crimes involve Facebook and that the dangers have become more known following many high profile cases that have taken place recently.
According to the Times of India, sex offences involving Facebook or Twitter have rocketed in the last four years. The article states that under current Facebook terms and conditions, children under the age of 13 are not permitted to hold a Facebook account and those between the ages of 13 and 18 are limited to what details they can share. Although these conditions are enforced, a survey by Plymouth University found that almost 40 percent of children in primary school are on Facebook. Quoted in the India Times, the security measures on Facebook and Twitter are "hardly enough". The article continues to explain that it is very easy to stalk individuals using Facebook since individuals do not get any notification that their profile has been viewed.
Reported in the Daily Mail UK, fears about Facebook security increased this year after it emerged that prostitutes were using the site to advertise their services. The India Times reports that although the popularity of social networking sites is on the rise, there is no way of preventing these types of crimes and caution must be exercised. I agree with this statement. With the increase use of the Internet and smartphones, I feel it will become easier for certain individuals to gain personal details of others, especially children, and misuse this data. Social networking sites can impose as many rules as they want but I believe the answer lies in education and parent supervision. This is similar to content viewed on the television. TV networks can post as many warnings as they want but ultimately it is up to the parents to pay attention to what their children are doing.
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