An 8 year old boy saw porn on Facebook….
With more and more parents allowing their underaged kids to have Facebook accounts, this type of exposure will probably be occurring thousands upon thousands times a day.
Most parents I speak to who allow their underage children access to adult apps either simply hope for the best, or sadly just accept that their 8 year old or younger will see porn on one of the adult apps they allow their child to use. They might think education and supervision is the key for safety, but this happened with supervision and no amount of “education” would have prevented it. Sometimes the social pressure these parents feel to allow their child on social media takes over any concern they might have with their child being exposed to porn.
Qantas Facebook Page Porn
Today a news story broke about Qantas’s Facebook page showing a pornagraphic image under one of Qantas’s posts in one of the comments. This image appeared as a profile picture belonging to the person who had left a comment. The father involved in this story had allowed his 8yr old son access to Facebook through his iPad to read a story on the Facebook Qantas page about the British Lions/Wallaby Rugby game. When the father complained to Qantas about the image seen by his son, the comment with the photo was eventually taken down. The Qantas social media team indicated that they don’t work 24/7 (even though the internet does) the comment was apparently posted over night and they didn’t clock on till the morning, by which time the boy and many others undoubtedly saw the pornographic picture.
Facebook Does NOT Have Parental Controls
Facebook relies on Page owners to indicate if their page is suitable for 13+ or 18+ and ages in-between. Some adult oriented pages will adhere to these suggestions but many don’t. Facebook Page Filters are reliant on Page owners setting them up for certain keywords for comments and on restricting access to different age groups and countries. If your child has an adult aged account, which many do, the age restrictions obviously won’t work. There are no filters for profile pictures. It is quite common to see on some popular pages, comments with semi or hard core porn pictures for the profile pictures.
Why Don’t Facebook Filter Pornographic Pictures?
If Facebook were filtered it MIGHT be a safer social media space for kids under 13yrs to use, but even then, the sharing nature of Facebook still makes it a dangerous place for kids. You might be able to supervise your child’s interactions some of the time perhaps, but what your child’s friends do with your child’s content is entirely invisible to you, you have no control of what your child’s friends do with your child’s posts. You won’t know if a photo your child posts will be downloaded and re-posted elsewhere, or photoshopped and defaced and used to set up a fake account to bully them ,or used to humiliate them in some way. This is why so called, adult supervision on Facebook and other adult apps of young children is NOT fail safe and never will be. Any posts your child makes on Facebook can be copied, shared and used against them, this is one of the main ways children are cyber bullied. And then, there’s the very real risk of your child seeing porn and other adult content that they might see just in passing, like the young boy in the Qantas story.
Facebook don’t block porn, they simply take it down if it is reported. There are some filters in Facebook for key word terms, if you use one of these banned terms in a comment your comment may be disallowed by Facebook or the Page moderator before posting.
Why Don’t I See Porn?
You can certainly avoid seeing most porn by not visiting too many unknown pages or groups, you can avoid searching for terms that are used to find porn. Keeping your friends list small helps, and certainly only “friend” people you know personally. Most adults don’t use Facebook in the same way as kids do. Kids often “like” many many Facebook Pages, They may “follow” celebrities or join groups, and play games on Facebook. If you don’t use Facebook the same way, you may not see pornography.
What About Educating Our Younger Children On Facebook?
For many parents they think that Facebook is relatively safe for their underage kids if they teach their children not to go to certain places in Facebook, but porn can be posted to comments on seemingly innocent Fan Pages, like the Qantas Fan Page, and certainly other pages aimed at young teens. Pages with a large audience attract more adult comments with swearing and pornographic profile pictures, ( the comment-ors also like a large audience) and not all page administrators are on the ball.
Some parents also decide to allow their young child on Facebook but think explaining beforehand what the child might see will help. The problem with this approach is the child can’t un-see adult content…the content they might see might be profoundly disturbing, there are many different styles of porn not all of it involves only humans with other humans. Some of the porn available on Facebook is so hard core it would be rated xxx.
What If I’m Friends With My Child On Facebook?
No amount of being friends with your child on Facebook or supervising their accounts will stop them from seeing porn. As a friend you can only see what your child shares or “likes” not what they search for or where they go. You can spy on their account, with an app, or by having access to their account, but they can always delete their activity log if they know how, and this won’t protect them from seeing porn in a comment or on a page post. By the time a Page moderator has deleted a pornographic comment your child may have seen it.
When Do You Want Your Child Exposed To Porn?
According to this Qantas news item, an 8 year old boy viewing Facebook with adult supervision, was exposed to a picture of genitals when he should have been shielded from such images until emotionally mature enough to handle it. It could have been a 4 year old…(I’m hearing about 4 year olds with Facebook accounts) but 8 yrs old is young enough. We have laws and restrictions set up to try and prevent young children seeing porn either in magazines, in gaming, in movies or online, but ultimately it’s up to their parents as to whether they follow the recommendations, age classifications, and laws and Terms Terms Of Service.
What To Do If Your Child Does See Porn On Facebook?
If your child is on Facebook they will most likely see porn, they will see swear words, they will see adult content and adult comments, it is a social media platform designed for older teens and adults. if your child is exposed to porn on Facebook you can report it through the normal reporting tools provided by Facebook, but complaining to Facebook or the Page owners if your child is underage as this father tried to do, is denying your responsibility and culpability as the supervising parent, you have no recourse because the Terms Of Service set by Facebook ban any child under 13+
There are some clear warnings in this story.
1. The internet is open 24/7. If you want to protect your brand on Facebook you have to watch and moderate comments 24/7, particularly if you are a highly popular brand with a huge reach, Qantas has 392,843.00 “Likes”. Something nasty posted to your Facebook Page will go viral if you have a large audience.
2. Handing your child an internet connected device without filters for explicit content is not safe, with or without supervision.
3. Facebook is NOT designed for kids, the age limit is 13+ the Qantas story clearly illustrates some of the reasons for this.
4. This incident won’t be an isolated case, most parents don’t even know their children are seeing porn.
Its going to get worse
Facebook are introducing a new way of commenting, “comment with a photo”. This means that you have the option of including a photo with your comment (see below). It is already enabled on many personal profiles and is being rolled out for Groups and Pages. So it won’t just be inappropriate profile pictures that will show up on popular pages like Qantas but it will be the photos that will be posted along with comments that will be used to shock, spam and embarrass.
These type of photos will appear on popular fan pages for bands, T.V stars Products and more. If you are a high profile brand it’s going to be even more important to have 24/7 moderation of your Page.
Remember pictures have far more impact than words.
For Page Moderators:
Note: You cannot turn comments off, you cannot disable profile pictures in comments.
Set up filters for your Page
You can also proactively moderate posts on your Page by turning on the Profanity Filter, which will block the most commonly reported words and phrases marked as offensive by the broader community:
- From the top of your Page, click Edit Page and select Edit Settings
- Click Profanity Filter
- Select an option from the menu next to Profanity Filter: none (Off), Medium or Strong
- Click Save Changes
Make sure you have notifications set up to receive a message when someone comments.
And check here out how you can set your page up to moderate posts to your page.
Set Your Page To Adults Only
You can also set your page to only be accessed by adults if you are worried about the content on your page not being suitable for minors. Go to Manage Permissions