Saturday 18 November 2017

Facebook admits it can't prevent young children from cyberbullying

Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

Facebook has admitted that it cannot prevent young children from setting up secret accounts which can be used for cyberbullying.

The minimum age for activating such accounts is 13, but a leading Facebook executive says this is difficult to control.

Simon Milner, Organisational Director of Policy for the UK, Middle East, and Africa, was addressing a major cyber bullying conference in Dublin Castle today.

However, he said action is taken if illegal use of the site by minors is reported but this can be difficult to monitor.

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''We know we don't always get it right, but we have established what are know as Insafe Hotlines around Europe to help," he said.

"This is not particularly well known.

''We operate zero tolerance as regards bullying and harassment.

"We've been working with teaching bodies for more than a year on these Hotlines, in a bid to deal with cyberbullying, and improve access for school management and staff, when dealing with cyberbullying suicidal threats and the use of inappropriate photographs."

However the site does not have a mechanism for school principals to directly access Facebook management when suicide is a cause for concern.

He said most examples of bullying are linked to photographic use.

If matters cannot be resolved between those involved law enforcement agencies are contacted.

“We are trying to make Facebook as simple as possible and easy to control,'' he said.

He pointed out that there are tools on the site to remove threatening and violent content.

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Users of the site can log bullying for information on how to cope with misuse of the site.

“We advise parents and educators to keep calm when dealing with bullying,''  added Mr Milner.

He was speaking at a national conference on the theme ''Understanding and Managing Cyberbullying'' in Dublin Castle, organised by Bully4U and the the Anti-Bullying Centre at Dublin City University (DCU).

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