A social network not to be part of

We’ve discussed the unintended evils of social networking sites in the past.  But here is a story about a “Social Networking” site that seems to have intended evils.  The site, which I won’t name, uses video cameras, and people are randomly connected to one another.  You can then chat with the person, click “next” to go to the next person, or report the person for inappropriate content. Doing so blocks an individual for about 10 minutes.  When a friend of mine told me about the site, I thought it was an interesting concept.  But then he told me that what he saw quite often would disgust most any normal person.  And then he told me that he saw young children using the program.

This raises all sorts of questions:

  • Where the heck are parents of such children, and why would they ever let them near this type of “social network”?  Where’s the little report button to report them?
  • As someone who believes in free speech, if the primary use of a technology is to violate the law, in this case child protection laws, perhaps I’ve just found my limit.  If we look at how Napster fared in the courts, because their business model was predicated on breaking the laws, in the end they had no legal defense.  Can this business argue that they have a viable model, absent the lurid behavior being demonstrated?
  • Even if they claim to have such a valid business model, should this site be required to exercise due diligence in protecting children?  A report button that knocks someone off for 10 minutes doesn’t seem like much of a deterrence.  How about the report button sending identifying information to the service so that they can review the video, where it could be used as evidence in a prosecution?

Here’s one reason I won’t go to the site in question, and neither should you: what if law enforcement finds even a hint that you’ve been there?  Could this be turned around such that you could be assumed to have participated in a lewd act in front of a minor?  After all, we’ve seen other instances where the presence of porn was enough for someone to lose his job and face prosecution.