Is Facebook culpable in Amanda Todd's death?

Amanda Todd tells her story on Youtube.

By now, many of us are familiar with the sad details behind Amanda Todd's death.

As a human, a man, a brother to four sisters, an uncle to a beautiful 10-year-old niece, and hopefully one day a father, Amanda Todd's story breaks my heart. Feelings of helplessness and depression have touched my life in a personal way, and I can only get two minutes into the video she posted before I am overcome and cannot continue to watch. [Warning: in addition to the video, there are graphic, disturbing comments, which should have been disabled long ago.]

But beyond the screaming headlines taking almost macabre joy in the eyeballs they can attract over a pretty cheerleader who met an untimely end, there are some important questions raised. In a society where we have the responsibility to protect the weakest amongst us, how was a ruthless sex predator able to target this child so easily?

The answers require much soul searching and reach far beyond what I can write in this space.

Krissy Darch has written an excellent piece delving into the misogynistic aspects of the story. The culture of victim blaming is all too familiar. A Toronto police officer instructing female students that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." The US military telling female soldiers that the only way to avoid being raped is to not go out alone (as seen in the gripping documentary "The Invisible War").

Then there's the lack of seriousness the Vancouver Police took towards the rising body count of serial killer Robert Pickton's sex trade victims. After all, weren't these just the associated risks of the sex trade workers' "chosen" lifestyle? And now, a "stupid" young girl killed herself because she shared images of her body with a stranger on the Internet. All this could be avoided if women just accepted men for the testosterone fueled animals that we are and took due precautions.

Never mind that Amanda was simply exploring her newfound sexuality in a manner that she thought was harmless and anonymous. Never mind that a sick manipulative predator groomed her to fulfill his own depravity and exacted revenge on her when she bravely fought him off. But predators have been taking advantage of young naive girls for time immemorial. Why is this time different?

It is different because it exposes the systemic flaws that the rapid march of technology has created in our society. Amidst all this change, we have not taken the time to fully reflect on the implications and put the required safeguards in place.

Let's start with Facebook. It's a publicly traded company and social network that has embedded itself in our lives like no other technology has. We've given it great power, and it is in Facebook's best interest to chip away at our privacy to increase "stickiness" and by extension, profits. We've put our trust in Facebook, and it has failed us in many ways, but it particularly failed Amanda.

I've done a little test to demonstrate how this is.

I signed up for a Facebook account, using the pseudonym "Jane Smith" and declared that Jane was a 15 year old female. The first page asks Jane for her real name and email address. That was easy. The next page asks Jane to allow access to her email account so it can automatically add all of her friends.

When she follows the tiny link at the bottom to skip this step, it pops up a warning that "People who complete this step usually find up to 20 friends, and Facebook is a lot more fun with friends."

Well, is Jane not a fun person?

OK, she'll let Facebook access all the personal details of her address book.

The next page tells Jane to put in her high school, and the year she will be graduating.  After she puts in a school,  Facebook immediately pulls up some profiles and prompts her to add them. She sees that cute boy from English class. One click and they're now "friends."

Now she's told to add a profile picture. If she doesn't have one handy, Facebook will take one of her from her webcam. As a teenage girl, she better make it sexy, so the cute boy from English class will pay attention.

One final click, and her online identity is complete. She's now one of the billion people on Facebook.

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RIP Amanda

Great article.  Everything you wrote us so true about Facebook.  They make it too easy for predators to prey on these innocent children.  I really hope the douche that tormented her with the picture gets what he deserves.  He needs to be caught soon and face the world.  She was brave to not have given into his demands.  

I also like how you described her choice about exploring her sexuality online.  She is young and naive, that's exactly what she was doing...exploring.  I'm sick of reading comments from people saying that she made a mistake.  No matter if the comments are positive.  She didn't make the mistake, the pedophile made the mistake of torturing this young girl. Now let's just catch him and make him pay....

Thank you so much for a great article

I just wanted to express my gratitude for this article. As a former Security Guard, I have always been concerned about online privacy, and in particular, the whole idea of Facebook.

I have often wondered why Facebook has never been taken to task for many things, specifically when it comes to deleting the accounts of obviously underage children with online profiles.

I fought to try to get my nieces off FB, with no success. They gave their real names and real pictures. I emailed FB, stating that you could tell by the fact that my nieces were posting info about the elementary school they attended, etc, to prove that they were minors, but I did not receive a response from Facebook headquarters. I gave up.

While zillions of underage kids are on Facebook, we have an even bigger problem: all the parents are too busy at work to deal with it. I'm not saying we should go back to having women stay at home, but rather both parents should SERIOUSLY spend far more time being aware of what's going on in their children's lives! (In the Netherlands, BTW, parents can often both work part-time, so that both spend time at home raising their kids...just sayin'...)

Pardon me for saying this, but if your child was found beaten up in a ditch, would you just sit down for a minute, maybe call your ex-wife, and say, "I think we have a problem here?" I think I need to take time off work, see what this is all about?

WHY ISN'T YOUR PRE-TEEN DAUGHTER TELLING YOU WHAT'S GOING ON? She's cutting herself!

Both parents need to be there for their kids! I don't want to hear about "supports" from the community at large. It's about parenting, quantity time as well as quality time. Why? Because kids are listening to an amazing amount of inhumane lyrics in rap songs, crap on youtube, and a whole nasty psychopathic micro-culture is developing online while parents are BUSY doing other things.

Sorry, parents, but it's time you knew this. It's time you took the computer out of your kid's room. It's time you stopped caving in to their demands for an ipod. It's time you got a little more old-fashioned and spent time with them, teaching them how to have empathy.

Mark Zuckerberg has a lot to answer for. It would be interesting to see his reaction if his future daughter went on FB at age 13. I'm guessing he wouldn't be happy about it.

But it's also high time parents spent way more time carefully listening to and caring for their kids. This girl was sleeping around for a reason and it wasn't because she had a great sex drive; she was looking love, acceptance, and approval from males in all the wrong ways. Why?

 

Victim of Cyber-Bullying

Great article. I have recently been the target of cyber bullying for the past two years (more recently the past 7 months) by three individuals in the United States: Holly Briley, Alexandria aka Sandra Goddard and someone only known as "Radio" via the websites RadioNewz.net and BustedBitchesAndInternetStalkers.com They've gone as far as suggesting that I am wanted by the FBI, to suggesting I've had affairs with celebrities, to suggesting I a related to Robert Pickton...even recently suggesting I was murdered by him. I have had authorities involved but they tell me matters like this are "civil" and that the only people who have the authority to get things of this nature removed are lawyers. Personally, I think that's laziness on the RCMP's part. While defamation/libel is no doubt a civil matter, it's also harassment - which, in my opinion, is something the RCMP should address. Unlike Amanda, I'm not a teenager; I am 25 years old. And while the things published online about me have smeared me in the worst way(s) possible, I can handle it. But sadly there are so many people out there like Amanda who cannot. How many more people need to be cyber bullied and end their lives before someone decides to step up and take action?

Amanda Todd's persecutors are on her Facebook RIP page

I spent 3 hours last night (UK) reporting numerous hateful comments and vile disgusting pictures of Amanda which were being posted on her RIP page. I also emailed Zuckerberg myself to ask for his assistance, I gave the link to the page and pleaded with him to do something about this considering it was cyber bullies who tormented her and contributed to her death. Firstly, the reports I had sent were reviewed and guess what ... They were NOT removed!!! What the Hell is going on? I doubt I will get a response from Zuckerberg and even if I do it won't reach me, I deacvtivated my account finally after 4 years giving my reason which was this .... ''I cannot believe Facebook is allowing cyber bullies to get away with vile posts and disgusting pictures of Amanda Todd on her RIP page and nothing is being done!'' I asked the page be taken down out of respect for Amanda and her family because it was not being monitored, I am certain it was started with good intentions by possibly some young soul who meant well but it got so out of hand, the abuse was horrendous I actually felt horrified and saw with my own eyes what these cyber bullies/Trolls put Amanda through I cannot imagine how devastating it must have been for her and to see the abuse that was still being posted there even after her tragic suicide was just too much to bear and I'm a fully grown adult! I despair for any Teenager who uses this monster they call Facebook, it's a breeding ground for abuse of the most vulnerable ... The young and naive :o( Zuckerberg sort it or take responsibility for many more suicides of lonely, vulnerable people who use your hateful site to make 'friends' and communicate with others. Not all young people have a happy family home where they can sit together watching TV, some of them are like Amanda are lonely and looking for friends and comfort because Facebook leads them to believe that's what they will find there, but sadly being mislead and used by online pedophiles and trolls because NOTHING is being done to protect them :o( 

Great article by the way!

So busy ranting I forgot to say ... Great article! 

Response from Facebook ......

Here's the response I got from Facebook! ....... 

Hi,

Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Learn more about what we do and don't allow by reviewing the Facebook Community Standards:https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards.

Thanks,
Viki

Amanda Todd article

Hello, I read your article and it has been spreading all over Facebook, I also posted this link on my wall.I could barely make it through her video she made as well. This young girl that I never met has touched my heart and broken it also. My question regarding is why is Corey Hartstones profile page still on FB, the pictures he has posted of her are SICK! HE IS SICK! Isn't he the one who blackmailed her with the explicit picture? He us threatening people on his page, telling them he is going to come rape their little childrn and have anal sec woth them till they bleed! And his profile pic is of her and its awfuL, along with all of the others and now , whether its him or not, or maybe someone else who was involved in her harrassment had started a new page JUST TODAY called "Amanda Todd for attenti seeker 2012" their profile pic is the one she took topless. How can this be aloud? They have an album and its all photochopped SICK pictures of Amanda. Corey also comments and posts on this page! And he just today posted a picture of a girl hanging dead from a rope and called it "Todding". I am so outraged by this! And according to post I'm reading he has been reported and Facebook will not do anything about this. Isn't that picture being posted child pornagraphy??? Can't they be in trouble? How can FACEBOOK allow this! I am a Mother of two Daughter's 13 and 21 and they have both went through situations with being bullied and their friends have also which is why I was compelled to start the BBG Page( http://facebook.com/bbgbullybegoneorganization)back in May, its a source for anyone children that are being bullied to speak out, tell their story, have support, meet others who are victims and raise awareness on this deadly secret epidemic. Both of my girl's have acounts on FB, but I'm ready to have them deactivated and I'm ready to do the dame with mine. If Facebook is perfectly fine with these people doing this sickning harrassment STILL after this poor girl's death and CELEBRATING HER DEATH and making fun of the way she took her precious life I do not want my children on there! This needs to be brought out and made public out of respect to Amanda, her family and all others who suffer from similar situations as Amanda went through and had to endure. And I will be the FIRST to volunteer to help! I have taken pictures on my iphone of all of the sick pictures that they all have taken! These people are murderers and YES I agree with you, Facebook should be held accountable as well!  Thank you for allowing me to comment, I will be following your articles. Please if you can, help me get these people off of FB. 

                             Outraged in Ohio, 

                                        Susan Thomas, founder of

                                         the BBG(Bully Be Gone)

                                           Organization

Anyone want to use the media to make a difference?

I have been directing all my friends to your article and also this link: http://www.causes.com/causes/580526-force-facebook-to-block-all-child-po...

Amanda Todd Misogyny

Great article, and thank you for pointing out what should be obvious. There is all too often reports of bullying and victims/ surviors of abuse, rape, murder....almost always the perp is a man and the victims are women and girls. It's the elephant in the room. Our society loves to think we have evolved and things have chnaged for young girls and women. Things haven't chnaged just mutated adjusted with the times. Until we address the pervasive misogyny in our world and our culture things won't change. It's time to stare the elephant in the eye and be bold and feirce enough to trample the poisonous and dangerous aspects of misogenous societal beliefs and practices. If our thinking and traditions aren't challenged or critised than there will unfortunatly continue to be undeserving victims of hate.

Please sign this petition to help put a stop to predators and bullies on YouTube. Share with others in this cause: 

 

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/make-all-youtube-users-registered-adults-with-a/

Let's get this article noticed

I posted the original comment and glad to see that others have taken notice to this article.  Be sure to link this excellent article where you can.  Facebook has been conveniently silent so far on this.  Let's make them take notice and do their due diligence when it comes to minors and the sick perverts that have accounts.  I don't get how some douche can post explicit pictures of Amanda and still have the account active...  This shit has to stop and the only way it can is by us.

Evil prospers when good people do nothing...

Facebook's Responsibility

I agree wholeheartedly that Facebook needs to be held accountable and seriously needs to be more socially responsible. I sent a message to Mark Zuckerbergs fb address a few days ago suggesting that very thing. As of yet I have not had any response. I wish more people would write to him as well, make it too hard for him to ignore us. We as a society need to protect the weak. I have learned through my efforts to report some of the many many many offensive pages that have been springing up all over facebook that facebook really doesn't care. Some of the offensive pictures are being removed, but many more are not as facebook feels they don't violate any of facebook policies. The offending pages themselves are rarely removed. This has got to change!!!! If anyone would like to join these efforts, here's a group that's dedicated itself to the removal these offensive pages/pictures : https://www.facebook.com/UsersReportAbusers

R.I.P.sweet young Amanda

The article I just read about Facebook I most certainly agree with. I'm a mother of 3 daughters & a grandmother to 5 granddaughters & it broke my heart to hear & read about Amanda Todd. My faith in society has dropped more now then ever. Someone should have helped that beautiful little girl before she felt she had no option but to take her own life. That saddens me tramadicly being a mother & grandmother of all girls. I taught my daughters to never bully & let me know if they had then it would stop. I've went to there schools & to the parents of the kids that bullied them & made it stop. I now have a 29,27 &22 year old daughters that are awesome & that are raising there daughters the same way. Poor Amanda needed help & everyone seemed to let her down & that's unbelievable, even now in her death people are still trying to bully this girl, what is wrong with our society???? Please let Amanda & her family be at peace & remember if she could have got all this attention when she was here she would still be alive!!!

Outraged

Susan Thomas wrote:

Hello, I read your article and it has been spreading all over Facebook, I also posted this link on my wall.I could barely make it through her video she made as well. This young girl that I never met has touched my heart and broken it also. My question regarding is why is Corey Hartstones profile page still on FB, the pictures he has posted of her are SICK! HE IS SICK! Isn't he the one who blackmailed her with the explicit picture? He us threatening people on his page, telling them he is going to come rape their little childrn and have anal sec woth them till they bleed! And his profile pic is of her and its awfuL, along with all of the others and now , whether its him or not, or maybe someone else who was involved in her harrassment had started a new page JUST TODAY called "Amanda Todd for attenti seeker 2012" their profile pic is the one she took topless. How can this be aloud? They have an album and its all photochopped SICK pictures of Amanda. Corey also comments and posts on this page! And he just today posted a picture of a girl hanging dead from a rope and called it "Todding". I am so outraged by this! And according to post I'm reading he has been reported and Facebook will not do anything about this. Isn't that picture being posted child pornagraphy??? Can't they be in trouble? How can FACEBOOK allow this! I am a Mother of two Daughter's 13 and 21 and they have both went through situations with being bullied and their friends have also which is why I was compelled to start the BBG Page( http://facebook.com/bbgbullybegoneorganization)back in May, its a source for anyone children that are being bullied to speak out, tell their story, have support, meet others who are victims and raise awareness on this deadly secret epidemic. Both of my girl's have acounts on FB, but I'm ready to have them deactivated and I'm ready to do the dame with mine. If Facebook is perfectly fine with these people doing this sickning harrassment STILL after this poor girl's death and CELEBRATING HER DEATH and making fun of the way she took her precious life I do not want my children on there! This needs to be brought out and made public out of respect to Amanda, her family and all others who suffer from similar situations as Amanda went through and had to endure. And I will be the FIRST to volunteer to help! I have taken pictures on my iphone of all of the sick pictures that they all have taken! These people are murderers and YES I agree with you, Facebook should be held accountable as well!  Thank you for allowing me to comment, I will be following your articles. Please if you can, help me get these people off of FB. 

                             Outraged in Ohio, 

                                        Susan Thomas, founder of

                                         the BBG(Bully Be Gone)

                                           Organization

Thank you for telling me that Facebook is doing this. I am disgusted that no one is doing anything about Corey Hartstones profile (as well as the police really. why is no one doing anything about this???)

You've convinced me to get rid of my FB account as well. It should be shut down for allowing thing like this to happen.

 

Facebook is a facilitator

I hadn't actually thought about how easy they make it for cyber predetors on Facebook, but I have thought about Facebooks many other failings in protecting young people from this kind of fate.

Firstly the age limit is not enforced, all you need is an email and the name of a highschool and your in! I know children as young as 8 using Facebook.

Secondly there are quite a number of user made pages that contain adult content, but are not restricted to 18+ even though they have this option. An easy way for 18s and younger to be exposed to things they simply shouldnt be exposed to. Facebook should really be approving these pages and imposing these settings before allowing them to be published.

Thirdly The user made trolling pages growing in their thousands where people are bullied, harassed and threatened repeatedly, yet Facebook refuse to remove them. There are even pages dedicated to bullying Amanda that Facebook refuse to remove!

Sure, you can blame the bully, you can blame Amanda, you can blame the parents, but it is clear that Facebook has been the facilitator in all this.

Every time I report misogynistic, racist, violent, cruel things on Facebook they never do anything about it. Some of the PUBLIC PAGES on there are disgusting. I do not want my 10 year old niece going on that site. So many of her friends already do. 

 

I'm going to tell her how I do not have one. I think it's lame that EVERYONE has one. I will tell her it will make her truly "weird" (a term she LOVES being called haha) if she stays away from trends like Facebook. I have way more influence than following the crowd does for her.