I am on Facebok, so are three of my four children. Last night we were having dinner and my two daughters ages 17 and 15 kept talking about older guys who frequently try to connect to them on Facebook, invite them on dates and so on. From the way they spoke about them they sounded as if they were being spammed and I could see that I had not much to worry about as they just ignored them. Still just like I don´t like the thought of 35 year old guys hitting on my daughters on the street, I am quite uncomfortable about the same guys being able to hit on my daughters on Facebook. I like to think that my daughters party with kids their age which for a 17 year old I would consider anyone between 15 and 22. In Europe, where I live, it is not illegal for a 35 year old man to go out with a 17 year old girl as it is in the States. The concept of statutory rape does not exist over here and I think that overall we are better off for that since nothing magical happens when people turn 18 and rape in my view has to include some lack of consent. So without going as far as coming up with an artificial concept such as “statutory rape on Facebook”, should Facebook monitor older men and women who are frequently contacting minors and flag them? I think they should. Of course older people could lie about their age, or put fake pictures, but Facebook already has rules about this type of deception and if somebody is found lying about their identity in Facebook they can get thrown out of the community. During my conversations with Chris Kelly at Facebook I found out that thousands are banished every week. Still this does not address the whole issue. Personally the way I would do this is to give an easy way for minors to flag potential molesters. Right now this is not clear. A minor who feels molested can block or report this person but in the main reasons to report the molester there is no one clear category which is “this person is molesting me”. In my view if older men or women clearly understood that they are risking getting banned from Facebook if they try to hit on a 15 year old girl or boy my daughters and everyone else´s children would not be so frequently contacted by older men/women. Another idea could be that anyone who is a minor appears with a clear indication that they are minors to anyone who is older than say, Mark Zuckerberg´s age. In this way both minors would be protected and older people warned.
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