New York AG Takes on Facebook

New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said his office is launching a full investigation into the social networking site Facebook and its safeguards against sexual predators.

"My office is concerned that Facebook's promise of a safe Web site is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints," Cuomo said of the investigation. 

In recent weeks, AG investigators posing as underage Facebook users were "repeatedly solicited by adult sexual predators" and granted unrestricted access to "a wide range of pornographic images and videos," including such groups as "*For girls that love to share naked pics*" and "Porn Star Trials," according to Cuomo's letter to Facebook. 

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The review also found that Facebook failed to respond or was slow to respond to complaints filed by investigators posing as the parents of the solicited underage users.

In one instance, less than a week after creating a profile, an investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl says he was solicited by a user claiming to be a 24-year-old man.

"Do you have any nude pics?" the male user asked.

The investigator said he filed a complaint with Facebook as the teen's mother, only to receive one response saying Facebook "will review the reported material and remove anything that violates our Terms of Use." 

According to the Terms of Use posted on the Facebook site, users "agree not to use the Service or the Site to...upload, post, transmit, share or otherwise make available any unsolicted or unauthorized...solicitations" nor "solicit personal information from anyone under 18."

The 24-year-old man's profile is still available on the Facebook site today.

In his subpoena to Facebook, Cuomo requested a record of complaints concerning sexual solicitation of underage teens and access to pornographic material received by Facebook and the networking site's corresponding responses.

"Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a Web site that is aggressively marketed as safe," he said.

"We take the concerns of the Office of the New York Attorney General very seriously," Facebook spokesperson Brandee Barker said in a statement issued today, noting the company would work closely with "all state attorneys general." "We strive to uphold our high standards for privacy on Facebook and are constantly working on processes and technologies that will further improve safety and user control on the site."

This post has been updated.

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