It is a numbers game, but an awfully depressing one – apparently Facebook and Twitter are so overpopulated that perverts, pedophiles, and rapists using the platforms are growing in numbers. According to a report, the number of sexual assault cases related to both social media sites has reached incredible heights; in only four years since 2009, reports have increased from 139 to 614 – that’s a 341.7 percent increase. To further demonstrate how serious this particular statistic is, half of those cases involved victims under the age of 16.
While the statistics above reflect data collected from 25 police departments in the U.K., it shouldn’t make it less scary for Facebook and Twitter users in other regions, especially those who have young family members who are allowed access to social media sites. In one case, a “harmless” chat between a stranger and a 12 year-old girl in Madison – never mind Facebook’s restriction that a user needs to be at least 13 to use the site – turned into “first-degree child sexual assault and use of a computer to facilitate a child sex crime” charges. In New Delhi, an 18 year-old student claims he was attacked by a friend he had first met on Facebook, and the perpetrator even filmed a video clip after performing the act.
Facebook and Twitter, like other popular social media sites, get hoards of new sign-ups on a daily basis. This year, Facebook hit a billion users after nine years in action, and Twitter increased its audience from 1.5 million to 10 million in the last four years. The bottom line: Almost everyone is on Facebook; having a Facebook account is becoming equivalent with having Internet access – and that naturally means plenty of criminals are also going to sign up and log in. There’s really no sure-fire way for Facebook to control who joins, and this is a sad reality most sex offenders are banking on. To try and fight the increase of social media-related sexual abuse cases, the FBI released a guide to Internet safety that will enable the public to take proper care of underage children’s exposure to the World Wide Web.