Facebook Threatens To Sue Daily Mail Over Story On Sexual Predators

Facebook is considering preparing a lawsuit against the Daily Mail after the publication ran an article originally titled “I posed as a girl of 14 on Facebook. What followed will sicken you.” which incorrectly named Facebook as the social networking site used by its writer and after editors lagged in correcting both the article’s title and URL. [Changes to both the article’s title and URL have since been made.]

The article’s author, a retired policeman-turned-criminologist named Mark Williams-Thomas who also works as a presenter on the popular series To Catch a Predator, insists the mention of “Facebook” in both the article’s title and URL was an editorial decision made even after he explained that he had used an entirely different social networking site to perform the research on which his article was based.

In fact, both Williams-Thomas and his agent, Sylvia Tidy-Harris, have both taken to their Twitter feeds in an attempts to explain his role in this duhrama:

In the article, Williams-Thomas describes creating an account on a popular social networking site posing as a 14-year-old girl. He describes how, “within minutes,” he was flooded with messages from older men.

A UK spokesperson for Facebook alleges that “brand damage”has been done as a result of the article’s misleading title and URL and that the site currently employs safety measures specifically designed to ensure that minors are not preyed upon via their social network:

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 favorable to the safety of minors – minors under 18 cannot receive messages from somebody over 18.

However, Williams-Thomas’ article does contain this following bit regarding Facebook:

I was deluged by strangers asking stomach-churning questions about my sexual experience. I was pressured to meet men with whom I’d never before communicated.

So I wasn’t surprised that a vulnerable teenager, Ashleigh Hall, was groomed on Facebook before being brutally raped and killed.

Facebook also points out that the company was repeatedly blocked in their attempts to make a comment about the article online.