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Don’t Let Pedo Spam Become The Norm

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Monday October 8, 2012 )

I’ve become desensitized to a lot of crap on the web, but stuff involving children is a different matter.

I’ve been administering forums and blogs for well over a decade. During that time, I’ve seen all sorts of rubbish posted – from the ramblings of illiterate red necks (of which there are far too many) to the usual pills, poker and porn sort of spam. It’s easy enough to get a little numb to it all – you have to in order to maintain some sort of sanity.

But images posted to a forum I work with recently with cut through the numbness and right through to the bone.I won’t go into details, lets just say it was spam that would be particularly appealing to pedophiles.

The initial reaction was to hit the delete button and rid the forum (and hopefully my memory) of the photos. But this was imagery of a child in danger. Instead, the Australian Federal Police were contacted and to their great credit, took the situation very seriously and acted immediately.

Aside from subject material itself, it was also very disturbing that someone would be game enough to post such a thing on an unrelated forum, with a link to a site that contained more of the material according to the police. Child predators are among the most hated and hunted of humans and tend to stay well under the radar. I have never seen such a thing posted in a forum I administer.

I really hope this doesn’t signify the beginning of a trend and I’m thankful the forum had a few safety mechanisms in place that prevented any other members from seeing it. Putting new members’ first posts into a moderation queue certainly prevents a lot of objectionable and obscene content from seeing the light of day.

If this happens to your forum, unlike other spam, don’t ignore it and just delete it and the offender’s account, hide the post from other members and then report it. Find out who to report it to before it happens so you are ready in the unfortunate event it occurs. Reporting will take some time out of your day – I spent a couple of hours all up finding the right person to speak with and assisting the police – but I feel it was worth every minute if it means any sort of chance of the predator being busted and more importantly, the child rescued.

While I don’t know if we’ll win this war, I do know this – if pedophilia spam becomes the norm, I will switch off comment functionality on all my blogs and may even go as far as to end my association with any forums I’m associated with in an administrative capacity.

Moderation queue or not, I don’t want to be exposed to that crap on a daily basis and while I’ve become desensitized to a lot over the years, I do not wish to become desensitized to this. Never.

Aside from the terrible tragedy occurring to children at the hands of these monsters, also spare a thought for those who hunt those monsters down, the people who must look at this material as a part of investigation. Imagine being exposed to that sort of thing on a daily basis as part of your job. Not just the police, but the employees at ISP’s, social networks and web hosts who liaise with the Police on these issues.

You’d think it would have to have an effect on a person over time – and according to a post I published a while back in relation to an interview with one of these people who works the dark side of the Internet, it certainly does. They look at these things so we don’t have to – and they deserve our gratitude, sympathy and support.


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