EXCLUSIVE: Facebook’s Filters Fall Short in Blocking Pedophiles
By Jana Winter October 21, 2010 Facebook is failing to prevent child predators from posting suggestive and potentially illegal photographs of children on its website, a weeks-long investigation by FoxNews.com reveals, despite its claim that it’s doing all it can to keep pedophile materials from being displayed.
The world’s largest social network employs content filters that automatically scan for basic keywords that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) identifies as being commonly associated with child exploitive material. Those filters, if they are properly employed, should flag much of the offensive material found on the site, cybersecurity experts say.
But in a lengthy telephone interview on Oct. 6, FoxNews.com took two Facebook executives on a click-by-click tour of their own website, bringing them face-to-face with some of its vile contents and forcing them to admit that their efforts to block child predators were not working.
During a 90-minute phone interview with Facebook spokesman Simon Axten and the company’s chief security officer, Joe Sullivan, the two executives were guided by FoxNews.com through the site’s seamy subculture – an encounter that left Sullivan sounding dumbfounded, unaware of and unable to explain the extremely graphic content on the site….
But despite their efforts, FoxNews.com found an entire underworld of widely recognized terms, code words and abbreviations on Facebook — hundreds of pages with “PTHC” and “Incest” in their titles, and many others that are unprintable. Both terms are on the NCMEC keywords list, sources said, and they were found on Facebook’s public, private, group and profile pages. Many of those pages purported to host video links to child pornography, and many had been active for months.