Facebook Pulls Prisoner-Run Intimidation Pages

I’m all for free speech, and the UK isn’t neccessarily so, but I also recognize that website have terms of service agreements, and that a website such as Facebook doesn’t constitite a protected public forum, since the server is private property. I also have no problem with Facebook deleting groups that prisoners are using to intimidate their victims.

The move follows a campaign by the families of murder victims, who have complained of prisoners using Facebook to publicize their exploits. Families United, a group representing the victims, met with Straw and Facebook representatives on Wednesday.

That really is the height of disgusting. But I suppose asking the question “What kind of person would do that?” is rather foolish when the answer is obvious: “A murderer who is serving time in prison.”

It does pose an interesting question. How much responsibility does Facebook have here? Yes, these groups are an obvious violation of the Facebook ToS, and it certainly is in Facebook’s best interest in deleting these groups. Monitoring the whole of Facebook can be a tricky thing, though.

Facebook spokeswoman Sophy Silver told CNN the networking site was looking at ways to prevent further abuse, but said it was a complicated issue involving the wider world of Internet and mobile communication.

Of real concern here is how these prisoners are getting online in the first place.

“The abuse of social networking sites by prisoners is offensive to public morality and decency — updating these sites from within prison is an offence under prison rules and using them to abuse victims is deplorable.”

The UK is all sorts of survalience happy. You can’t walk from one end of London to the other without leaving sight of a security camera. But they can’t monitor their prisoners? And let’s be realistic here – who is making sure these prisons have a good cell phone signal? I would think that having cell phones in prison poses a much greater security threat than just harrassing people on Facebook, and it would be worth the cost to install Faraday cages.


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