Facebook has threatened to sue the Daily Mail UK for inaccurately publishing a piece about Facebook on Wednesday, according to the Guardian. Daily Mail’s article claimed that whenever a “14 year old girl” joins Facebook she is approached by older men within seconds, who want to perform a “sex act in front of them”.
The article was written by Mark Williams-Thomas, who is an ex-policeman and is now working as a criminologist. However Thomas insists that his article was regarding another social network – whose name has not been disclosed, and that the editors of Daily Mail introduced Facebook in his article. Thomas maintains that Facebook was added to the article even though he told the editors that it was wrong.
Daily Mail has apologised for this mistake/deliberate act in today’s print paper and on its online site yesterday. The initial title of the article read “I posed as a girl of 14 on Facebook. What followed will sicken you”. As soon as Facebook got notified of this piece, their PR department made desperate efforts to reach out to Daily Mail. Facebook team even tried to add comments to the article, but claim that all efforts to add comments by Facebook were blocked by Daily Mail.
Although Daily Mail changed the title of the article to “I posed as a girl of 14 online. What followed will sicken you” from “I posed as a girl of 14 on Facebook. What followed will sicken you”, the URL of the article remained “i-posed-girl-14-facebook-what-followed-sicken-you” until 12 noon today.
Facebook has enforced special safety controls for minors, which makes it impossible for anyone older than 18 years to send messages to facebook users who are below 18 years of age.
Facebook’s spokeswoman in UK stated that:
The people at Facebook in the US were reading this and knew at once that it couldn’t have been our platform. We have made Facebook much more favourable to the safety of minors – minors under 18 cannot receive messages from somebody over 18.
Facebook has been specially infuriated over the fact that they were unable to reach out to Daily Mail throughout Wednesday. Sylvia Tidy Harris, who is an agent of Thomas at Daily Mail in her defense maintains that yesterday was an extremely busy day, which led to unusually long delay in rectifying the issue.