Facebook responds: Shock at obscenities, no policy change
The Punch has just left Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco where the company sought to address the fallout from the controversy of tribute pages to dead minors being defaced with obscene content.
Following questions earlier this week from The Punch, Facebook’s global communications and policy director, Debbie Frost, told us the company was sending a letter to Queensland Premier Anna Bligh apologising for the incident and addressing the Premier’s letter of concern sent to the social networking giant this week.
Frost said the incident was unprecedented in her time at Facebook, adding it was difficult to fathom how people would decide to attack memorial pages in this way.
Frost said the company was not considering any policy change to the current system of reporting offensive material.
Tribute pages to two children who died in tragic circumstances this month - Elliott Fletcher and 8-year-old Trinity Bates - were used to post obscene messages and pornographic content. The incident has sparked a heated debate over the extent to which Facebook monitors the content people distribute on the network.
Today, Queensland’s Courier Mail reports a school in the state has suspended students who used Facebook too bully a teacher and further concerns that criminal trials may have to be aborted because hate groups against accused criminals could jeopardise their right to a fair trial by jury.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said this morning he would consider the idea of an online ombudsman, saying cyber crime and the use of the internet for bullying is “frankly frightening”.
“If I was a mum or a dad out there today with little kids, given some of the awful events we’ve seen in recent days, I’d be legitimately concerned,” he said on Channel 7.
Frost pointed out Facebook had posted a reminder to Australian users that they can have a lot more control over the administration and privacy of such tribute pages.
In this instance, she said, the situation arose partly because those who set up the page stopped administrating them.
Ms Frost said it was almost impossible to deal with this “level of individual” intent on such cruel and offensive behaviour.
“This is an absolutely tragic case . . . I have worked here two years and have never seen anything like this.
“I just can’t believe that people have no moral compass that they would do this. It’s pretty hard to deal with that level of individual”
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