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  • ‘Excellent journalism’ from the Daily Mail

    by Kulvinder
    10th March, 2010 at 9:58 pm    

    In the midst of the current hysteria surrounding the internet and children, and given the tragic murder of Ashleigh Hall; the Mail obviously thought it would be a good time to tap into the fear of thousands of ‘predators’ posing online. Facebook in particular has come under attack as unfortunately it was the site where Ashleigh Hall first met her killer. Her death has predictably been used by various people to promote what are really little more than ‘mickey mouse’ gestures, the idea that a ‘paedophile panic button’, would be of any practical use is frankly absurd.

    Anyone who thinks they’re in danger is able to contact the police by phone or via email and the button doesn’t do much - beyond providing politicians the appearance of ‘doing something’. The death of Ashleigh Hall in particular wouldn’t have been prevented by the magical panic button as she, tragically, had no idea her killer wasn’t whom he appeared to be.

    Far be it for me to suggest that Chris Huhne in advocating such a measure, especially in the light of circumstances where it wouldn’t have helped, is being a self-serving prat with one eye on the Mail’s readers and one on the up-coming election.

    So as i said in the midst of all this ‘apparent fear’ the Mail decided it would publish a sensationalist account of what happened when an ex-policeman, now a ‘leading child protection expert’, posed as a 14 year old girl. Whats amusing is the internet is dealt with in a manner that evokes the mid to late 90s; its a big scary place with rapists on every metaphorical corner. The story didn’t make any sense especially as it dealt with Facebook as a ‘chat site’ rather than a method of social networking.

    The Mail now appears to be doing some rapid backtracking.

    hat tip to David Steven

                  Post to del.icio.us

    Filed in: Civil liberties,Culture,Moral police,Net Campaigns

    19 Comments below   |  

    Reactions: Twitter, blogs
    1. Derek Bryant

      R yes Facebook RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: 'Excellent journalism' from the Daily Mail http://bit.ly/bTeZ5c

    2. Leon Green

      RT @pickledpolitics Blog post:: 'Excellent journalism' from the Daily Mail http://bit.ly/bTeZ5c

    3. Art and Photography Articles » Blog Archive » An Overview of the Four Most Popular Binding Styles

      [...] Pickled Politics » ‘Excellent journalism’ from the Daily Mail [...]

    1. Kulvinder — on 10th March, 2010 at 10:11 pm  

      Apparently the site is down as more people link in, heres the google cache as a temp measure.

    2. Refresh — on 10th March, 2010 at 10:28 pm  

      Facebook and most social media sites are a problem. The problem with the journalism is they do not understand how we came to this. The internet just happened, as a free for all, as a land grab.

      Its powered by ad-revenue, and figures suggest on the face of it, paid for by only 2% of internet users. They are the ones who click thru the banner ads.

      In reality it is being funded by all of us through our purchases, and taxation which goes on to pay for infrastructure. And yet ‘value’ created and owned lies in the hands of google, facebook etc.

      What the politicians should be looking to do is establishing policy and funding for an internet which is safer and directly addresses our needs.

      Facebook does not.

      Listening to Radio 4 PM program covering the issue of Facebook and Ashleigh’s murder, they interviewed a 16 year old who sounded very sensible about who she accepted as her ‘friend’, and was clear that a lot of her real friends and acquaintances were not so discerning. However what was more horrifying was her teacher’s justification for joining. Clearly her school had decided that the best way to communicate with their pupils was to join Facebook. The reason given was that at least the school could be reasonably certain their kids would get their messages. Getting down with the kids I suppose.

      So here we have a school endorsing Facebook and similar and yet we know not everything virtual is real.

      That is a very confused teacher and a virtual illiterate governing body and school.

      As for the button, it is wrong for Facebook not to endorse it. Ashleigh may not have been saved, but the mere presence would keep the issue in the minds of youngsters as they traverse a landscape which will come back to haunt them.

      All social networks I have come across so far are rubbish, and have only benefitted because there was nothing else. Its called first mover advantage.

      Internet v2.0 is needed, Chris Huhne and others should look to the future and fast.

      And Chris if you are reading this, drop me a note, I am working on v3.0

    3. earwicga — on 11th March, 2010 at 12:11 am  

      To praise the Daily Mail is a very rare thing for me to do, but I am very happy about their error in naming Facebook as the site that was investigated by the police officer.

      Facebook doesn’t give a flying fuck for the safety of it’s users. Despite constant reports of groups calling for violence towards women they continue to leave them up. Groups such as ‘Killing your hooker so you don’t have to pay her’ with the subtitle ‘‘kill that filthy slut and save your dough’ and groups about punching women in the face or punching pregnant women in the stomach being funny are to me and thousands of others NOT funny and not acceptable. I also object to ‘rape joke’ groups which elicit ‘jokes’ such as ‘it’s not rape…if you’re enjoying yourself’. Ha bloody ha! It’s just as funny that teenage girls are in the most high risk group of being raped by the teenage boys sharing these ‘jokes’ with their friends. And there are literally hundreds of these groups reaching out to hundreds of thousands of teenagers and predators.

      Refresh above refers to advertising which funds sites such as Facebook and until all that object to offensive groups Facebook is going to do absolutely nothing about them.

      I cannot see how Facebook could have prevented Ashleigh Hall from meeting her murderer though. A panic button would have made no difference, neither will the the government internet education programme being mooted. Teenagers do not believe a word of what older people tell them - the only thing that would make a difference is peer education, and that seems to be the last thing that is routinely set up or utilised.

    4. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 1:41 am  

      earwiga @ 3,

      Talk me down….

      I am really against censorship on the web. However, I am also against death and paedophilia.

      Help me on this.

      It seems to me that - as long as there is an internet - we will find, all to easily, sites that sicken us. I’d have thought that most people, kids even, could see through a dirty old man.

      So, take the internet away.

      Would perverts not find another modus operandi? I’d say yes.


      I think the message, fucked up people, have become the media. In the sense that you and I are apparently marginalised against a paedophile. I don’t think we are, but there you go…


      We are far more likely to catch paedophiles easily, if their first port of call is the internet. It is the first place where alarm bells ought to ring. And we should have people dealing with it.

    5. earwicga — on 11th March, 2010 at 3:22 am  

      I think I have as many questions as you have douglas clark. State control as seen in the recent Google ruling in Italy is not desirable. But then I find it particularly undesirable that Facebook hosts groups such as those I have described above. And these groups do actually contravene Facebook’s own statement of rights and responsibility. Requiring Facebook to live up to it’s own terms isn’t censorship, and neither is requiring them to control hate groups. There are many groups that I find offensive on Facebook, including the sexist ones - but it is clear that there are groups on there that are more than just sexist. Incidently I emailed the police about an offensive message which was clearly from a predator (following my interaction on ‘rape joke’ sites) and was told the following:

      “The difficulty police have with networking sites is that although it is on Mr Welsford facebook site it isn’t proof that he wrote the remark himself.”

      “New Scotland Yard do have a section which monitors activity on the net and intercept activity from known sexual predators. Unfortunately these days with so many networking sites people can virtually write or set up groups and invite people onto these with little or no governance due to the Freedom of Information Act. Unfortunetly all we can do is keep reporting offensive material to the Webmaster who run the sites and hope they take notice. In the meantime I would vote with my feet and not pay lip service to people who abuse what should be a pleasant experience for all.”

      The message made no odds to me as my Facebook account contains no personal information and I don’t know the sender irl. But the situation would be exactly the same if I did know the sender and he knew me. That worries me.

      As I said above, I don’t think Facebook is to blame for the murder of Ashleigh Hall. Peter Chapman is wholly to blame. If Chapman had been denied internet access, as those on control orders are( that is an example not an approval of control orders) , then Ashleigh Hall would be alive today. But as you say, he would have found another way to act. There was obviously a total failure by the authorities to monitor Chapman, a known and convicted predator, and this is something that will be investigated.

      As it is, the media are victim blaming and focusing safe internet usage messages on the innocent - as they do in campaigns about rape - and that never works.

      I do not have the answers, but I do know the posturing from Alan Johnson et al about IP and email addresses is rubbish.

    6. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 7:10 am  

      earwiga @ 5,

      Thanks for that. I don’t know how to react about this at all.

      The internet is becoming an increasingly strange place. I love the freedom to talk to you, at least when you know it is me talking to you. My point being that sometimes you don’t, these days. For identity theft and the like can mean that you respond to someone that is not in fact me, but a thief.

      We should protect children from that sort of thing, if we can.

      People, including ex-cops, pretending to be someone else, is despicable conduct. Did he do it just because he could?

      I have a ridiculously nostalgic idea of what the internet ought to be about, and you’d have found it here, just before Faisal (Sid) and bananabrain buggered off to found their own colony. They used to be required to argue their case. Now they just do ‘Polemic is us’. And pretend that is OK. Yawn.

      And that was just before we were invaded by the entirely weak and stupid Eustonite tendancy. I can just about go David T, who does make a case, sometimes, however also we now have Brownie and Stanislaw and other morons as regular visitors here.

      My point?

      The internet has gone downhill rapidly. It is now full of folk that are here for sexually inadequate reasons, folk that are here for politically inadequate reasons, folk that are just here because…

      It ain’t no fun no more.

      It is hard work….

    7. Martin Chuzzlewit — on 11th March, 2010 at 8:19 am  

      Another minority group targeted!

      Who will speak up for the Online Predators?

    8. platinum786 — on 11th March, 2010 at 11:24 am  

      Is it really the job of sites like facebook or Youtube to police activity? They try to control the basics, but were do you draw the line?

      Groups like “I enjoy racist jokes” or “F**k Islam” or something like that, is it the job of facebook to decide whether your allowed to say that or not?

      They have a feature which allows you to complain about groups, people, content to report abuse, if they get enough hits, they’d probably remove it.

    9. Refresh — on 11th March, 2010 at 12:23 pm  


      The basic problem is that there is a perceived anonymity on the internet. Its what allows thugs, bigots, perverts and malcontents to post comments without taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

      If it was clear that no one was truly anonymous, then behaviour and attitudes will change. A way to get that understanding in place is for people to be asked to register and confirm their details before they can post.

      I recognise that the internet would not be that exciting if we couldn’t have this perceived anonymity, and we would not ‘meet’ as many interesting people. There is a balance to be struck in this regard - if your service provider (eg Facebook) is wholly trustworthy and that they would not abuse your loyalty by peddling your details then you would stay with them. If they are not, and generally their business model does not allow them to be, then move to one which is. In the end it comes down to how you and I end up paying for the service. If its ad-revenue driven then the model you get is what you have and you can’t move away from it.

      If on the other hand you recognise that these service providers are going to have to make money somehow and you want a responsible environment then you move to a subscription based model. I suspect that is what will happen, and it will come as a part of a package administered by your ISP.

    10. Katy Newton — on 11th March, 2010 at 1:43 pm  

      The death of Ashleigh Hall in particular wouldn’t have been prevented by the magical panic button as she, tragically, had no idea her killer wasn’t whom he appeared to be.

      Yes, that struck me as a fairly basic point. I don’t see the point of a panic button, that’s what 999 is for.

      I agree with earwicga that a lot of Facebook groups are utterly revolting. I don’t know if I favour banning them (although “Kill Your Hooker So You Don’t Have To Pay Her” does seriously test my commitment to freedom of speech), but I do think that access to them should at least be restricted to users over 18. I think I’d also favour flagging groups and pages that contain racist, sexist, violent or adult content.

      I also think that parents of younger children would do well to ensure that their kids only have access to computers in family space where they can keep an eye on what’s going on, but that’s a matter for parents to decide.

    11. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 2:08 pm  

      Katy Newton,

      Would I be right in saying that you and Devils Kitchen are folk cut from the same cloth, or something like that?

      I agree with earwigca at 5. And you at 8.

      So, where does that leave me? More importantly, where does it leave you?

      Refresh @ 7 seems to me to spell out the issue.Though he backs off later:

      The basic problem is that there is a perceived anonymity on the internet. Its what allows thugs, bigots, perverts and malcontents to post comments without taking responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

      You and I, Katy have never hidden behind anonymity. We are who we say we are. I like to think that you do not post stuff you could, otherwise, deny. I don’t think you do.

      Refesh’s mea culpa for refusing to say who he is is, I think, pathetic.

      I’d piss on web stats if it led to a greater honesty amongst posters

    12. persephone — on 11th March, 2010 at 3:40 pm  

      ” .. have never hidden behind anonymity. We are who we say we are. I like to think that you do not post stuff you could, otherwise, deny. I don’t think you do”

      Some do it because by revealing their name they can be tracked to a work address by potential internet nutters whom they do not know.

    13. Refresh — on 11th March, 2010 at 3:43 pm  

      ‘Refesh’s mea culpa for refusing to say who he is is, I think, pathetic.’

      Thanks Douglas for picking that up. Its a fair point and it should be debated.

      My idea of ‘anonymity with responsibility’ is for me to have a public-facing username of choice (as I do), but for the site manager (or service provider as I prefer them to be called) to know who I am. And they should only know personal details if they are trustworthy.

      With regards your point about denying what you may have said - you, I and quite a lot of others stick to the same username because they will have acquired an online persona under it.

      And it would be mistake to presume the use of a proper name actually reflects the commenter’s real one.

    14. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 4:21 pm  


      OK, I am a tad sensitive about my user name right now, as you probably know.

      However, there are a couple of things to be said about posting under you ‘real’ name. (Incidentally, it is my real name.)

      Firstly, it establishes identity with responsibility, to paraphrase a little from your third paragraph. Usually, (heh!), it means that I do think twice before I say something. It is, after all, me that is saying it, not some sort of avatar. It is a level of responsibility that certain commentators do not subscribe to. Not you, obviously. However, if I make a mistake - and I have made a few - it is incumbent on me to apologise, not just change my login and continue to post. We have seen a bit of that in the past, haven’t we?

      Secondly it ought to establish some sort of trust. If I sent you a postcard, circa 1900, and I signed it dougie clark, you’d just sort of assume it was from me. You know where you are with straightforward identities. On a semi related note, I cannot understand why ‘Sid’ became ‘Faisal’ just before he opted out of here. If ‘Faisal’ is who he was, why was he posting as ‘Sid’? It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

      Lastly, and admittedly the weakest point, it is increasingly difficult to recall on-line personas when you can’t ascribe a personality to them. Maybe that’s just me, and given the identity theft you’ve probably seen, I am relieved it is what I say, rather than who I claim to be, that folk read. And can tell the difference.

      Och! That sounds terribly arrogant.

    15. douglas clark — on 11th March, 2010 at 4:33 pm  

      Refresh @ 11,

      I wrote a long post arguing with you. It disappeared.

      ‘Nough to say I respect you but I’d repect you more if you posted under your own name. And that is my real name, btw…

    16. KJB — on 13th March, 2010 at 10:21 pm  

      Katy - I agree with you completely.

      As for this panic button…

      the button, a large graphic which once installed features prominently on each profile page and gives internet safety advice

      Surely some teenagers are going to just ignore the advice - and then the Mail will no doubt be first in line to criticise the govt. for ‘wasting time and money’ on ‘bureaucracy’ when they should have ‘more bobbies on the beat.’ Or something.

      As the Durham police chief said - this is a wake-up call for parents. Parents should be in touch with their children’s lives enough, and lay down basic rules like ‘Stay in a well-lit, public place’, to ensure that incidents like this are lessened. Avoiding them completely is impossible. Though if the Mail wants to blame the Internet, it could try looking at its own website which frequently features half-naked pictures of young girls (like Peaches Geldof - though they showed her completely nude. They also have a weird obsession with Suri Cruise).

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