Catching sexual predators through social networking sites

With increased use of social networking sites such as Face book and others, had resulted in children and teenagers vulnerable to potential sexual predators. Now to turn the tables on these predators, the social networking site such as Facebook is using a mix of software technology and collection of personal information from its users thereby helping in catching the probable sexual predators.  Many users may not be aware of the fact, that Facebook has a lot of technology in place for scanning postings and chats looking for criminal activity. This automated technology scans conversations and flags questionable content for human moderators who can read it and then inform the appropriate authorities if desired.

Facebook has made their system quite smart by collecting the data from the sexual predators in order to estimate and examine the inappropriate chat and as such these messages are flagged. Later on, the Facebook security employees determine if they should notify the police about it. This technology was used in the month of March when it flagged a suspicious conversation of a man in his early thirty’s and a thirteen years old girl who were talking about sex. When the man agreed to meet the girl after class the next day, the Facebook employees notified the police who then arrested the man.

Facebook along with other social networking sites are using a mix of technology and human moderators to pick out possible predators among its users. Facebook along with other social networking sites are using online chat records of convicted pedophiles to teach the software what to look for when scanning conversations.  There are indeed effective defense techniques that are available right now, but they are expensive too.  The demerit of these techniques is that they may estrange some of its target audience especially the teenage users who would like to have more freedom of expression.

There is more do be done on part of vigilance and discovery of better techniques as high profile cases are also coming to light recently. For instance recent cases include a smart phone app called Skout that admitted to have been used by three teenagers who were talking to adults that had led to sexual assaults on these teenagers by adults. The technology in this case failed to verify that users of its now-shuttered teen section are less than 20 years old that gave the predators’ an easy access.

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