Facebook is one of the most popular sites around, with nearly 2 billion monthly active users. The social media giant is supposed to be a safe place, where users can connect with long lost friends.
Unfortunately, some pretty scary people have infiltrated the site. You won't believe how they are putting children at risk.
How Facebook use for children is risky
What we're talking about is a recent investigation conducted by the BBC. They found 22 Facebook profiles that belong to men who have been convicted of child sex offenses. Some include grooming children on Facebook and attempting to form a sexual relationship.
Note: Child grooming is when an online predator befriends and establishes an emotional connection with a child and sometimes the family. They do this to lower the child's inhibitions and it typically results in sexual abuse.
Facebook's rules state that convicted sex offenders are banned from using the site. However, when the BBC reported the profiles in question to Facebook, six of the accounts were allowed to remain active for three more weeks.
The social media giant claims it was waiting for confirmation from police before removing the accounts. That's unacceptable! Three weeks is too much time to give a potential predator time to act.
How to keep children protected online
Facebook has a policy of not permitting convicted sex offenders to use its site. There is a way for you to help, by reporting them.
You will need to submit a form to report the predator. Once Facebook confirms someone's status as a sex offender, it immediately disables their account.
Before submitting the form you will have to enter your email address, the full name of the person you're reporting, the URL of the profile in question and the state, province or country in which the person was convicted.
You will also be asked to provide any documentation that you have confirming the person is a convicted sex offender. This includes national sex offender registry listings, court documents, or online news articles.
Click here to report a convicted sex offender on Facebook.
Now that you know potential predators are everywhere online, it's a good idea to take steps to keep your children protected. Here are some suggestions for keeping kids safe online:
- Have open dialogue - Make sure you talk to your kids about online safety. Let them know the risks that come with being online and that they can speak with you anytime a problem arises.
- Set parental controls - Take advantage of the parental control settings on your child's gadgets. These will help keep them from accessing inappropriate online content.
- Install security software - You can help prevent online risks with security software.