Facebook crime every 40 minutes - report

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IOL pic apr24 facebook microsoft patents Associated Press The man who posted Facebook messages that made jokes about April Jones, and Madeleine McCann, and transit vans, and April fools, didn't cry in court.

London - A crime linked to Facebook is reported to police every 40 minutes.

Last year, British officers logged 12,300 alleged offences involving the vastly-popular social networking site.

Facebook was referenced in investigations of murder, rape, child sex offences, assault, kidnap, death threats, witness intimidation and fraud.

The vast majority of cases involved alleged harassment or intimidation by cyber-bullies, according to figures obtained under a Freedom of Information request.

Around half of police forces in England and Wales supplied details for when Facebook was recorded in crime reports.

In some cases, arguments conducted on the site led to “real world” violence, while in others paedophiles used it in an attempt to groom children.

Examples include a woman witness in a rape case in Cleveland who was contacted by the suspect and later attacked for giving evidence against him.

In Greater Manchester, parents called police after a paedophile induced their 13-year-old son to send indecent pictures of himself. In Staffordshire, a school bus driver used Facebook to attempt to groom a 14-year-old boy.

And, in another case, a jilted boyfriend posted a naked picture of his former girlfriend, who was 17, on the site.

Jean Taylor, of Families Fighting for Justice, a campaign group which calls for tougher sentences for murder, said: “Facebook has an awful lot to answer for.

“People say it’s a social networking site but it causes more harm than good. It’s far too easy for paedophiles to put a photograph of themselves up on the site and meet young people. Facebook should be closed down.”

A senior detective said: ‘What people need to remember is that crime is just a reflection of the society that we live in.

“Just like a knife or a car, there is nothing intrinsically dangerous or criminal about Facebook, but just like both of those things it needs to be treated with respect because of the dangers that can be associated with its use.

“However, it has to be accepted that Facebook has made the commissioning of some crimes, such as sexual grooming, much more easier than they were in the past, and we need to be aware of that.”

Earlier this year, the Daily Mail revealed hundreds of criminals have been using the site to taunt their victims from behind bars.

Prison authorities found 350 inmates posting on Facebook in the last two years, using banned mobile phones smuggled into jails. Some continued to run their criminal empires from behind bars using the site.

A Facebook spokesman said it worked with police to bring serious offenders on the site to justice.

“Just like mobile phones and TVs, Facebook is part of our everyday lives,” he added.

“Facebook’s Community Standards, supported by reporting tools on almost every page of the site mean such conduct is swiftly dealt with.

“Facebook users act as the world’s largest neighbourhood watch and are very active in keeping the site safe. When matters of serious criminality are found on Facebook then we work with law enforcement to bring those responsible to justice.”

Facebook launched on the New York stock market last month, making many of its staff instant millionaires.

But the value of the shares has plummeted since then, falling almost 30 percent in just over a fortnight.

As a result, founder Mark Zuckerberg has seen £3.2-billion wiped off his personal fortune, taking it to a still extremely-healthy £9.4-billion. - Daily Mail

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