An angry dad is suing Facebook because his 12-year-old daughter published provocative photos of herself on her profile. Although names have been withheld, the BBC reports that a father in Northern Ireland claims the pictures his daughter posted puts her at risk for sex abuse and is holding Facebook responsible for its inability to reinforce its policy prohibiting those under the age of 13 from having an account.
According to the man’s lawyer, the photos are sexually explicit and show a “heavily made-up” 12-year-old that makes her look “much older” than her age. In addition to posting these photos, the girl also included personal details including her home address and school she attends.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, the father said, “I’m taking this case against Facebook as a last resort. I was horrified when I saw the photographs my daughter had posted of herself on the site. She is far too young to understand what she is doing. She suffers problems and engages in self-destructive behaviour. She is currently receiving counselling.” According to MSNBC, when the father found out about his daughter’s indiscretions online, he pulled the account. She shortly thereafter created another one.
There are clearly issues here that are very complex and go beyond just posting semi-nude pictures on Facebook. And for the father to blame Facebook and not at least acknowledge his role or potential to prohibit the behavior (computer monitoring software! conversations! parenting!) well, that's just wrong too. But judging from the Consumer Reports study from earlier this year finding 7.5 million Facebook users to be underage, there may be many more cases like this where young kids are posting questionable content online and are completely unaware of the consequences. Lieu of locking your child in her room without a computer, it is hard to keep track of everything she's doing online. Keep the conversation open, discuss that what your kids post online can have long-lasting effects and consider installing a security suite for your family PC like Net Nanny or a Facebook-only monitoring service like MinorMonitor.
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