Sure, Facebook usage around the world is on the rise – the company hit 500 million active users in July, but it also appears Facebook-related crimes are following a similar growth rate, at least as reported in the UK.
Police in London say there have been more than 100,000 crimes linked to Facebook in the past five years – with 7, 545 calls from the public concerned about the social networking site just this year.
This compares with just 1,411 calls related to Facebook in 2005, the year the network began to gain popularity, according to The Daily Mail.
“Emergencies” range from everything from sudden deaths, missing pets, and alleged acts of terrorism, to frauds, sexual offences and hate crimes. Messages used by criminals to make threats, intimidate, bully and harass on the site have also been called in to police, the article said.
A spokesman for Facebook said:
‘While there is a correlation between Facebook’s growing size and the number of calls, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of Facebook was the cause or carrier of a criminal act in any of the phone calls referenced,’ according to The Daily Mail.
A spokesman for the UK children’s charity Kidscape, which focuses on preventing bullying and child sexual abuse said:
‘These figures are quite alarming, but they reflect the growing use of Facebook by the general population. It must be remembered that any site operating user accounts has the potential for users to create false accounts. These figures are an urgent reminder that we must increase our personal safety settings in cyberspace.’
Facebook has come under fire here in the U.S. from some, like the principal of a New Jersey school who said social networking can cause psychological damage to students who are being cyber-bullied. But we’ve written many posts about the social networking company’s efforts to reduce the cyber hate.
Earlier this month Facebook backed an anti-bullying bill that explicitly includes cyber-bullying as a form of harassment in Texas. They also partnered with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and promised to respond more quickly to hateful comments on the page.
Even so, do you think that instances of Facebook bullying are as high in the U.S.? Have you ever been the victim of an online crime?