Legally Kidnapped

Shattering Your Child Welfare Delusions Since 2007

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Advanced SystemSuckology: Facebook


I have recently noticed a trend of lots of stories involving Facebook, in one way or another.  These stories became numerous enough that Facebook became worthy of a category all in itself on Legally Kidnapped.

Facebook is also the current hotbed of activity for Family Rights advocates and activists.  For the first time in human history we are able to come together, coordinate and communicate with each other  all over the world by typing a status, sending a message or even posting a link to the latest hot off the presses news story.   Protests are planned and organized in some of these groups.  Others are there to help people.  One of the best of these groups was set up by Leonard Henderson of AFRA who formed a group where people can go to learn how to fight CPS.   Of course, there is no magic bullet when dealing with CPS, but Facebook has given us a way to come together and share information like never before. 

Although a lot of good has come out of the Facebook phenomenon for activists, a closer look will reveal that the website has changed the game drastically on many levels.   There are many dangers associated with the use of Facebook.  I think that due to this new major player which effects almost every aspect of family law, people need to be careful and be aware that you are being watched and that your information can be shared and that if you're not careful, Facebook can have a profound effect on your case. 

So in this report, I am going to take a good hard look and show many examples of how this social networking phenomenon has changed the playing field on several levels including; Raising awareness, child safety,  getting caught doing something that you shouldn't, and the dramatic effects that the site has had on family law. 

It is my hope that by writing this that you will be better able to protect yourself in the future and not have something that was posted on Facebook show up on your judges desk to be used as evidence against you.

1: Taking On A Cause

The one thing about taking on a cause on Facebook is that anybody can do it.  You've all seen it, someone shares a message on their status, "If you know somebody who had cancer, post this as your status for one hour," or something along those lines.  Lots of people jump on these, why I don't know.  Perhaps it makes them feel important.  It makes them appear to be good and caring people in the eyes of everybody on their friends list.  Perhaps they can't think of anything better to say.

Of course some causes are taken more seriously than others.  In one case, for example, a mom got so upset about a Facebook Group that she said advocated for child abuse that she went out and started her own page against it with several members trying to get it shut down.  (1)   I've been notified of a couple of these groups and pages personally, with calls to stand together against publishing such garbage on Facebook.  For the most part, I think that they are set up as a joke but are certainly lacking in taste, and some are downright offensive and even illegal and should be reported to the proper authorities (and will be covered later).  I usually don't bother with these idiots, as I am on a mission of my own. 

Still taking on a cause is worthy of mention, because the one thing that Facebook has done is allowed anybody who has taken on a cause to amplify their voice and beliefs like never before.  So right along with the Family Rights groups, there will be anti-child abuse groups who are preaching out for CPS to do more to protect children, advocating for new laws to empower CPS.

2: The Awareness Campaign

In December of 2010, an interesting idea took over Facebook by storm.  Change your profile picture to a picture of your favorite cartoon character in an effort to raise awareness about child abuse. 

The child advocates were all over it as most thought it was a great idea.  It was something simple that anybody could do.  My friends list suddenly lit up with pictures of every character from Scooby Doo to the Power Puff Girls.  It was also a wonderful demonstration of how the sheep will jump on the in thing of the day with the simple belief that something like this could make a difference in the world. 

"Well, it's going to peak someone's interest and it's going to make them get out on the Internet and Google child abuse and say, you know, just how much of this is going on our community," Reece said. "It's something just to get their minds stirring, to where they will go out and see, and hopefully follow through and either give donations to an organization or become an advocate for an organization that deals with child abuse."  (2)

The idea was a big hit, as many of you did this, but it was not without controversy.    There was a rumor passed around that suggested that such a campaign was started by pedophiles and that such profile pictures would be more appealing to small children, thus making them more likely to accept a friend request from a stranger.  (3)  While I suppose there may be some element of truth to this, philosophically speaking of course, the campaign was simply an idea that somebody stated, and went viral.  The claims that the campaign was started by paedophiles was completely without merit. 

It does go to show you just how easy it is for something to be misinterpreted, and how easy it is to spread the seeds of deception.

Never the less, Facebook has become quite the awareness raising tool for many campaigns with pages and groups popping up from everywhere on practically every topic you can imagine.  Some of them grow, others fizzle out rather quickly.  In the Family Rights groups there are fathers rights, mothers rights, on and on. 

3: Facebook and Child Safety

In terms of child safety and protection, Facebook has failed miserably. 

For starters, the site was once accused of hindering investigations into pedophile grooming and child pornographer rings and of failing to report illegal activity that had been taking place on the site to the proper authorities. (4)  Although Facebook claimed to have protections for children in place, their response to such activity was to delete the illegal groups and profiles of their members, thus destroying evidence that would have otherwise been used by police to get these perverts off the streets and internet.  (5)  Although this may have been an incontinence for many sicko's, it wasn't all that difficult for them to get back on under a new identity, set up shop and start right back in.  Facebook never reported these people to the authorities.

The child protection people in the UK were all up in arms over this, and after a rash of reports to local police agencies, none of which came from Facebook but rather all coming from the users of Facebook, and the highly publicized death of a young girl who was murdered by a sexual predator who she met on Facebook, as well as cases where teenagers have committed suicide after being bullied on the social networking sights, the British Government pressured Facebook to add in a panic button to all of it's users profiles. (6)  This panic button would make it easy to report criminal activity, bullies, and sex offenders and it was claimed, would deter perverts from targeting children when they could so easily be reported. 

Facebook, however was not interested in implementing the panic button (7) and instead, while under pressure, introduced the Child Exploitation and Online Protection app, which was downloaded more than 50,000 times (8) and prompted 211 serious reports of child grooming, etc within the first month. (9)

The United States followed suit by implementing a Find Help application designed by  (10) 

None of this has stopped parents from allowing and even helping their preteen children to get accounts on Facebook.  Nor has it encouraged parents to play closer attention to what their kids are actually doing and saying online.  In fact, a recent survey by Consumer Reports found that: "Facebook features some 7.5 million users under 13 years of age, with some 5 million under the age of 10."  (11) 

The same survey also found that many of these parents even help their kids to lie about their age so that they can set up a Facebook account.  (12)  Parents have also been relatively unconcerned about the dangers.

Another area of concern involves advertising and marketing, where companies have gone as far as to recruit kids to endorse their products on the social networking sites and advertise them to their friends.  (13)  One father even filed a lawsuit against Facebook, for allowing his kid to like a product or brand without parental permission, thus allowing the advertiser to market their products on the kids wall, as well as use the kids name and likeness when the kid commented on their page, etc.  (14)

 4. Teenagers on Facebook

A recent study from the California State University  (15) found that Teenagers who use social networking sights like Facebook and Twitter were much more likely to experience mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

Another study by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (16) claimed that teenagers who used Facebook were more likely to smoke cigarettes or abuse drugs and alcohol than teens who did not, as more and more of them were being exposed to photographs of their friends engaging in these activities.  This study was highly suspected to draw a false conclusion, with lots of criticism.  

There has also been a lot of concern over privacy issues, as more and more teenagers post status updates in regards to every aspect of their livest.  (17)  Privacy concerns have plagued Facebook users since the beginning.  It got so bad at one point that a town in New Jersey once tried to ban parents from posting pictures and video's from school functions such as sporting events and performances.  (18)

And the federal government even went as far as to try to require the schools to monitor students internet usage, both while at school and while at home in order to prevent cyber-bullying and harassment.  (19)  It wasn't just the students who were being harassed either.  Teachers are more and more often becoming victims of false accusations, insults and harassment by students as well.  (20) 
And in one case, a mother was even convicted of harassing her son, by posting derogotory comments about and as him on his Facebook account after changing his password so he couldn't get back on.  (21)

5. Getting into trouble on Facebook

People have said and done some pretty stupid things on Facebook.  (22)

What's worse than that is how some people will react to that which is said.  For example, I have personally seen several parents express their frustration with their kids, but all in all I know them to be good parents, and know from first hand experience that kids can be frustrating at times. 

On Facebook, stupid things that are said can cause more problems then the original author anticipated.  We've all heard of parents being investigated for doing stupid things like putting their kid for sale on eBay (23) or posting some stupid picture but there is a difference between intentional stupidity and how easy it is for the clueless to misinterpret something posted on Facebook.  (24)   There have been many cases where parents have been reported to authorities for posting pictures of their kids that were not deemed appropriate, or based on comments where what they said was misinterpreted as a threat. 

Because some threats that have been made have actually been carried out, some believe that all should be taken seriously. 

In another case,  a judge was caught offering to give advice to a defendant in a criminal matter, (25) and in another a father of 23 kids was offended after a child support hearings officer commented that he has too much time on his hands. (26)  The hearings officer was forced to delete his Facebook account after that.

This is probably a topic that I could go on forever with. 
6. Facebook and Family Law

When it comes to family law, Facebook has really made a mess of things.  In fact, Facebook is now being blamed for 1 in 5 divorces in the USA.  (27)  In one case, a woman caught her husband cheating and actually found pictures of him marrying another woman when he was supposed to be on a business trip.  (28)  As well as cases where the ex was trying to set the other up, including one where the ex-wife set up a fictitious account, posing as a 17 year old girl, trying to get him busted.  (29)  Fortunately for him, he knew it was her and was able to submit proof that he was just playing into her little game.

Of course it is not uncommon for things to get out of hand, with severe unintended consequences including CPS involvement.  (30)  There have been cases, for example, where parents have gotten into trouble for posting confidential information to Facebook, including one mother who posted her confidential case files including her children's names and information on the judge and guardian.  (31)

Lawyers have also been turning to Facebook to gather evidence against their clients opposition as well.  In fact it's becoming a known technique in the field, as there have been cases where those who were crying poverty in divorce cases were living it up on hidden funds.  (32)  In one case the judge even went as far as ordering the two parties to exchange their passwords, handing them over to the lawyers to both Facebook and dating sites when a husband became convinced that there would be useful evidence against his soon to be ex-wife on them.  (33)

One estimate even suggests that 2 out of 3 lawyers are now using evidence gathered from Facebook in divorce and child custody cases.  (34) 
When the case is a bit more high profile, Facebook has served to provide a venue for people to share suppressed information, such as the names of perpetrators of crimes where the names were suppressed to protect the privacy of the victims, thus making it difficult for police to do their jobs.  (35)

It has therefore been suggested that people who are involved in legal proceedings stay off the social networks altogether, due to the fact that it is so easy for anybody to print out your status messages, take them out of context or even set up fraudulent accounts in your name.  (36)  I would suggest that you at least be careful and mindful of what you post on the social networks. 

7. Finding Lost Loved Ones on Facebook

One of the more interesting phenomenon's of the Facebook era is the number of lost loved ones who are finding each other online.  (37) There have been some truly incredible cases of this showing up on the newsfeeds, including one mother who was reunited with a daughter 63 years after she was forced to give her up for adoption, when she was just 17.  (38)  Another mother was contacted by her son 30 years after giving him up for adoption.  (39)

But regardless of all the happy stories and happy reunions, some of these people feel, it's not always a good thing.  There have been many cases where the kid rejected the long lost parent, sometimes not being interested in any sort of a relationship. (40)

Of course this phenomenon also comes with great anguish for adoptive parents, (42) who until recently felt safe and secure in knowing that their secrets were safe and protected.   Now they're report concerned with the crazy long lost relatives making contact.  The ones who have been out of the picture for years and for whatever reason.  (41)  IN some cases, it causes anguish for the kids, some of whom don't even know that they were adopted.  (43)


Never the less, Facebook has changed the rules.  In some cases it works out for the best, in others it certainly does not.  So I guess the best I can offer you is a piece of advice.  First be careful what you say because you never know whose watching, and second, don't get your hopes up because there are a lot of idiots out there.

Of course if you are concerned about anything you may have said on Facebook at some point and time, there is an easy solution.


(1) Moms: Child abuse page on Facebook not okay

(2) Cartoon Characters on Facebook Spreading Child Abuse Awareness

(3) Protection or targeting? A new Facebook campaign brings out the best and worst of the Internet.

(4) Facebook failed to tell police about paedophile porn ring

(5) Australia Police claims Facebook hinders child abuse probe

(6) Facebook accused of failing to report suspected paedophiles

(7) Facebook to announce raft of new child safety measures

(8) 50,000 Facebook Users Press Panic Button To Report Sexual Predators

(9) Facebook child protection app prompts 211 reports of suspicious online activity

(10) 50,000 Facebook Users Press Panic Button To Report Sexual Predators

(11) Facebook Filled with Underage, Unsupervised Users: Consumer Reports

(12) Survey: Many parents help kids lie to get on Facebook

(13) Companies Exploiting Socially-Networked Children to Push Junk Food Like Drug Dealers

(14) Facebook sued for kids 'liking' products without permission

(15) Facebook may cause serious mental health problems in kids, studies show

(16) Teens On Facebook And Social Media Sites More Likely To Drink, Smoke And Use Drugs: Study

(17) Do teens of the Facebook generation value privacy?

(18) N.J. Town Wants To Ban Facebook Pictures Of Kids

(19) Fed instructs teachers to Facebook creep students

(20) 'Teachers are fed up' with online abuse

(21) Mom guilty in Facebook harassment of son

(22) Facebook photos lead to child abuse charges

(23) What Is Wrong With This Picture???

(24) “I’m Going To Kill My Kid:” Violent Threats Online Should Be Taken Seriously

(25) Rash of judges stepping down after misconduct

(26) Officer's Facebook Post Offends Father Of 23

(27) Facebook to Blame for 1 in 5 Divorces, Lawyers Say

(28) Wife betrayed on Facebook: ‘Terrible beyond belief’

(29) Insane Ex-Couple Lie to Each Other On Facebook for Proof in Custody Battle

(30) How Not To Use Facebook To Get Custody Of Your Kids

(31) Mother who published confidential family court papers on Facebook charged with contempt of court

(32) Lawyer Uses Facebook Posts In Divorces

(33) Judge Orders Couple to Exchange Facebook Passwords

(34) E-mail and Facebook used as weapons in family law cases

(35) Social network sites a problem for courts

(36) Anyone in a legal case should get off Facebook and Twitter

(37) Father, long-lost son reunite through Facebook

(38) Facebook page reunites 80-year-old mother and the baby she was forced to give up for adoption when she was 17

(39) 'It was like a bomb going off, but a nice bomb': Mother logs into Facebook account to find message from son she gave up for adoption 30 years ago

(40) Mom finds her kidnapped kids via Facebook

(41) Beware Crazy Relatives Finding Your Kid on Facebook

(42) Facebook has changed adoption for ever

(43) Adopted children face anguish as birth parents stalk them on Facebook

(44)  Facebook allows natural parents to track down adopted children, charities warn

1 comment:

  1. Very important informative article, I like it. Thank you for sharing with us.


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