Facebook owned apps used in 50% of online grooming cases

NSPCC wants safeguarding rules introduced to protect children online

Published on 16th April 2018

The NSPCC has urged the government to introduce mandatory safeguarding rules which protect children online after it emerged that more than 50% of grooming cases involved Facebook-owned apps.

offence to have sexual communication with a child. Figures show that where the mthod of communication was known, 32.6% of grooming cases involved Facebook and 18.8% of cases involved apps owned by Facebook including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “Facebook has shown it is happy to use data for commercial purposes, but has failed to harness data in a way that can be used to prevent grooming.

“Facebook should be leading the way, but instead it has demonstrated time and again that self-regulation isn’t working and social networks can’t be left to mark their own homework,” he added.

The children’s charity’s new campaign, Wild West Web, calls on Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, to tackle this problem by bringing in mandatory safe guarding rules which protect children online.

The NSPCC wants the government to bring in a regulator to force social networks to keep children safe. The  #WildWestWeb campaign urges Mr Hancock to bring in:

1. An independent regulator for social networks with fining powers

2. A mandatory code which introduces Safe Accounts for children; grooming alerts using algorithms; and fast-tracking of reports to moderators which relate to child safety

3. Mandatory transparency reports forcing social networks to disclose how many safety reports they get, and how they deal with those reports.

Peter Wanless added: “Digital Secretary Matt Hancock has a golden opportunity to put an end to the Wild West Web and force social networks to protect children online.

“Mr Hancock could be the person who makes the internet a safer place, for every child now and in the future. We hope he seizes the chance to do that,” he concluded.


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