Tag Archives: social media

Lawsuit Claims BackPage.com Aids Sex Trafficking

By: N i c o l a

Three sex trafficking victims have brought a lawsuit against BackPage.com. The victims claim that the website helps promote the exploitation of children. Lawyers for the victims claim that the girls were sold as prostitutes through ads on BackPage.com. BackPage says that the lawsuit is an attempt at censorship and has asked a judge to dismiss the case. The judge declined, BackPage appealed.

The Washington Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. BackPage believes the case should be thrown out because the Communications Decency Act of 1996 gives it immunity from the activities of its members. The victims say they were raped multiple times when they were teenagers and that the website is partially responsible for their sex trafficking.

KiroTV.com reported, “According to court documents, when pimps forced the women to offer sex on the controversial website, Backpage never verified their ages and instructed sex traffickers not to use certain words or graphics to avoid scrutiny from the public and police.”

During the arguments, the Supreme Court Justice’s asked both sides whether BackPage was part of contributing, developing or creating content for the website. The attorney for BackPage claimed that it was clear that his client did not create or develop the ads that allegedly harmed the plaintiffs. He argues that this is an effort to chill online speech.

The Communications Decency Act of 1996 was the first attempt by the United States to regulate pornographic material on the internet. It criminalized the transmission of materials that were “obscene or indecent” to persons known to be under 18. However, many portions of CDA have been struck down for violating the right to free speech.

The BackPage lawsuit could have a major effect on sex trafficking. The ruling in the case could also have a huge impact on free speech in the online world.

If you suspect child sex trafficking, it should be reported to the CyberTipline of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Your Teen is Talking to Strangers and Giving Out Too Much Info

By: Wen Tong Neo

McAfee released a study in June that exposed a shocking revelation for the parents of tweens and teens. The 2014 Teens and the Screen study: Exploring Online Privacy, Social Networking and Cyberbullying exposed that teens often over share personal information and are willing engage strangers online.

The survey highlighted some important findings. Private lives are not so private. Teens often seek social networks considered to be the “no parent zone.” Cyberbullying is still prevalent on the world wide web and teens are often the victim. Cyberbullying conflicts are also carried into offline altercations.

Some of the statistics are startling. Continue reading Your Teen is Talking to Strangers and Giving Out Too Much Info

Eraser Challenge Draws Concerns from Parents and Schools

By: Pink Sherbet Photography

A dangerous game called “Eraser Challenge” has gone viral and is fast becoming popular with teenagers. The game challenges teens to use an eraser and rub it back and forth on their arm between the wrist and the elbow while reciting the alphabet. Teens come up with a word for each letter that they rub onto their skin with the eraser.  Opponents compare the wounds of the game after they reach the letter Z.

Bethel Middle School got wind of the game when several students started showing up in the nurse’s office with marks on their arms from playing the game. Students confessed to the game and after some investigation the Principal of Bethel Middle School Derek Muharam said a random collection of a dozen students were found to be playing different games as part of the challenge.

“They’re saying the alphabet but they’re creating a word for it,” Principal Derek Muharem said. “So it’s a for apple, b for boy.”

Muharem also reported that students were sharing erasers which makes the game not only dangerous but also unsanitary.  A letter was sent home to parents regarding the challenge which can be read in full here.

There were approximately a dozen students in various grades participating in the game when it was originally reported in March.  Since that time many Youtube videos have begun popping up with the “Eraser Challenge” as a featured element. Some of the videos have anywhere from 5,000 up to 30,000 plus hits.

Some of the wounds experienced by students playing this game include pain, severe irritation, bleeding, scarring and possible infection.

“I don’t understand why kids are mutilation themselves or doing things to hurt themselves,” said parent John Luhrs whose daughter is in sixth grade at Bethel Middle School.

The school has notified parents and said that no student will be reprimanded for their actions. The goal of the school and the parents is to make sure that kids stop attempting to hurt themselves by succumbing to peer pressure that looks cool on the internet.



Simple social media etiquette guide

By: Jason Howie

Our lives are filled with social interactions online and offline. These social interactions are often guided by instincts and social conventions placed upon us by the cultural we live in. Many of us in the 21st century are painfully aware of how much of a role technology plays in our social lives. There are entire media sites devoted to helping us enhance our social reach. There are some basic social etiquette rules that are a good idea be followed both online and offline.

  1. Texting an “I’m running late” message, canceling a date via email, or declining an RSVP by not RSVP-ing. First, every effort should be made to arrive on time. Yes, things happen like car accidents, road work, or a late baby sitter. A text just doesn’t suffice. Call the person and tell them why you are running late. It is just in poor taste to cancel a date via email. It is something that should be done in person. If an event calls for an RSVP there has been a lot of planning put into the event. Not sending an RSVP that declines the invitation is much worse than not sending back the RSVP at all.
  2. Turn off your phone, laptop, tablet, or other mobile device when you are on a date whether that is at the roller skating rink or at a quiet dinner. You are attempting to be social with another human being for the evening and it is rude to ignore them in order to text your friends about the amazing time you are having. The person your with will definitely notice that they are not being paid attention to. If you can’t shut off your phone at least turn off the sound or put it on vibrate so that it doesn’t interrupt the flow of the evening.
  3. Keep your personal grudges, arguments and conversations offline! Everything is saved online in one form or another and once it is out there in the big bad world of the internet it will be out there forever.  Once you put your grievances online, everyone will want to give you their two cents and it won’t help solve the problem, it will just stir the pot. If you don’t want anyone to see your dirty laundry, don’t share it where can be seen.
  4. Don’t break up or announce someone’s death via text. Some things are just meant to be hashed out face-to-face especially a break-up.  A death in the family should be addressed over the phone or in person.
  5. Engage in good eye contact and really listen to what the person you are with has to say.  Good eye contact doesn’t mean staring a hole into someone’s head, it means looking them in the eye more than anywhere else including down at your phone or off into space.  Good eye contact and eager listening can lead to great conversation and could lead to a deeper social connection offline than you would ever get online.

Tips for keeping your teens and tweens safe online

I recently had the chance to talk to the experts at ZoneAlarm about  Facebook’s latest privacy changes – where teens can publicly share their photos and updates as well as be found by the general public.  What does this mean for a teen’s online security?  What are some concerns parents should have or be made aware of?  It’s no secret that from cyberbullies to online stalkers and predators, teens face an increasing range of online threats. What can parents do to help their teens protect themselves online? Their experts offered up this infographic as well as some helpful statistics and tips for keeping our kids safe.

Did you know that?

  • 23 percent say they have been victims of cyberbullying.
  • 62 percent of teenagers have witnessed taunting and other cruel behavior online.

Control who sees timeline posts. Under privacy settings, you can select: “Who can see my posts?” Then, by changing it from “Public” to “Friends” or “Close Friends”, all future posts that your teen creates will just be seen by the audience that she specifies. She can also change the “Limit who sees old posts” setting from “Public” to “Friends of Friends” or “Friends.”

Watch out for apps. Continue reading Tips for keeping your teens and tweens safe online

The Truth of Twitter: Is Twitter the Latest Way to Scare America?

After the bombings in Boston, all of America is on high alert to say the least. We always have been on alert, but it seems that danger lurks all around us at times. On April 23rd, the group known as the Syria Electronic Army hacked into the AP’s twitter account. The reason? So that they could fool us into thinking that the White House had been bombed and President Obama had been injured. This is not the first time the SEA has allegedly used Twitter to cause panic. They also allegedly hacked into Twitter accounts of the BBC, Sepp Blatter and CBS. This is, of course, in addition to the various accounts that they use of their own until they are suspended. Once gone, they simply open up a new one.


While on the surface it might seem like only words, those words can have devastating effects. Imagine a relative of a White House employee seeing such a tweet from a respected agency like the AP. Anyone that saw that tweet before it was refuted would have been alarmed and looking over their shoulder. The stock markets were actually affected as they dropped by one hundred and thirty six billion dollars.

The bottom line is that terrorists operate in fear and they really don’t seem to care how they generate it. Using Twitter seems like a joke on the surface, but it is no joke at all. Social media is not immune to evil at all Continue reading The Truth of Twitter: Is Twitter the Latest Way to Scare America?

Protect Valuable Data With Online Cloud Backup Solutions

Will cloud computing replace the hard drive, the flash drive and the DVD drive? It might. Google laptops and iPads don’t have hard drives, and similar technology is coming down the pipeline. Tech writers like Jeremy A. Kaplan of FoxNews.com believe that physical drives will soon be obsolete, and artists, scrapbook fanatics and photographers are tossing away their flash drives and DVDs in favor of hosting their photos on social media sites like Facebook and Pinterest. These sites store photos (and more) to the cloud.cloud computing is here to stay

What is cloud hosting? It’s an online storage system that allows you to back up data over public or proprietary networks on an offsite server. There are several types of cloud backup services that people use in their daily activities without even knowing it; iCloud, iTunes, Evernote and Facebook are a few consumer favorites, and Google, Amazon and Dropbox also offer cloud storage solutions for individuals and companies to store and share large files. If you haven’t considered using these cloud backup services yet and you’re still saving your data to your hard drive or on CDs and DVDs, find out why the rest of the world is moving to the cloud.

Storm’s Coming

There are a number of reasons why IT managers and computer users would want to push for cloud storage solutions to replace other means of storage. For starters, cloud storage solves the data-access problems brought on when natural disasters (think Hurricane Sandy) strike. Without a secured backup plan, Continue reading Protect Valuable Data With Online Cloud Backup Solutions

Fake Facebook Friends

facebookfriends A photographer friend of mine just told me that thousands of her photographs from   her blog have been copied and used to create a fake Facebook account.  Just days later several friends circulate a warning that identity thieves, because there is honestly no other way to describe them, are stealing images off of Facebook and setting up “dummy” Facebook accounts.   The warning reminds friends to pass it on and that if they get a second friends request that either their friend has developed multiple personalities or that it is a fake.   I think in most cases it’s probably a fake.

But why set up a fake Facebook account?  Why would you care to learn that a complete stranger’s Aunt Emmy is baking cookies today or that their nephew got a new dog? Continue reading Fake Facebook Friends

Peek a Boo I See You: Facebook Searches Show All

Facebook has always had a questionable reputation when it comes to protecting users’ privacy. While the company prides itself in offering a variety of secure settings, you need to be aware that what you share on Facebook could be seen by anyone. And, now, so can you. Or, at least you’ll be easy to find by anyone searching for your name. This is due to the fact that Facebook is turning off the feature that allows users to remove their profile from the search. Not only can this be an invasion of your privacy, but it could lead to identity theft issues.

Why the Change?

Facebook decided to do away with the option of hiding yourself from the site’s search feature because they claim that only a small percentage of people use this option. What exactly is a small percentage to a company that sees literally billions of users each day? It could be thousands, if not millions, of users that wanted to protect their privacy.

How This Affects Identity Theft

The more a person can learn about you, the easier it is to steal your identity. It doesn’t matter if it’s something as simple as your hobbies, your mailing address, or even your cell phone number. All the pieces add up. Once a person finds you on Facebook, the damage could be done quickly. Without the proper privacy settings in place, someone could find out a lot of information that would prove useful in identity theft. Continue reading Peek a Boo I See You: Facebook Searches Show All

Sex Offenders on Facebook and other Social Media

Should sex offenders be allowed on Facebook? That question will probably prompt the obvious response, a loud “Hell, no!” but many organizations are arguing that banning sexual offenders from social media violates the offenders constitutional right to free speech.

Many state laws are in effect that successfully ban or limit sex offenders from using social media.  New York state law demands that registered sex offenders report all of their internet accounts (email, instant messaging, and social networking) and bans social networking for sex offenders convicted fo a crime against minor. NY state law also bans convicted sex offenders from social networking if they were convicted of a crime that involves the internet. Other states have similar laws regarding sexual predators and internet activities.

Facebook has guidelines in place stating: “Convicted sex offenders are prohibited from using Facebook. Once we are able to verify a user’s status as a sex offender, we immediately disable their account and remove their account and all information associated with it.”

John Walsh, spokesman for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, said of the internet, “we know that sex offenders target and lure children and how they look at the online community as their private, perverted hunting ground.”

We all want to protect our kids so the obvious answer is to ban sexual predators from accessing them. But by doing so we are also putting our kids at a disadvantage. If we can take away the rights of one individual, we can take away the rights of the many.  The argument that civil liberties advocates use is that social media is becoming an indispensable freedom of speech.

The appropriate question to ask next is “is social media a necessity in this day and age?” The answer can be quite complicated. Most people don’t leave home without their cell phones, iPads or other communication devices. Many of these devices allow access to the internet world. Many people would argue that participation in online discussion is a matter of free speech in its most basic form.

Carolyn Atwell-Davis, director of legislative affairs at the Virginia-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said of the issue, “It’s going to be really, really hard, I think, to write something that will achieve the state’s purpose in protecting children online but not be restrictive enough to be unconstitutional.”

State legislation can help parents protect their children but only to a point.  State’s cannot trample on the freedoms given to citizens.  So in the end the protection of children is really left up to parents and the owners of each individual website. Parents need to be vigilant about the activity of their kids online and social media websites need to make rules regarding what actions they will take when sexual predators register with them. These two actions are the best way to keep children protected from those our society has deemed unfit.


This guest post is by Linda St.Cyr,  a freelance writer, blogger, and columnist. She covers a wide variety of topics from food to celebrity gossip. Read her work at Ecorazzi, Yahoo! Contributor Network, or The Hungry Kitchen.