back to article UK children's charity: Social media firms rubbish at stopping grooming. Time for a mandatory... AI

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is calling on the British government to force social media companies to use AI to detect suspicious grooming behaviour. The charity campaigning group wants to introduce a raft of measures to regulate social media platforms, with consequences …

  1. LeahroyNake

    Age verification

    "Simple and secure age verification technology already exists to ensure that websites can confirm which of their customers are adults. The implementation of robust age-checking processes should play a critical safeguarding role, as it is the only way that social media platforms can truly identify which of their users are children."

    Do they mean the one that Pornhub owns or something else? Maybe they just require a copy of your driving license, NI number or maybe it's credit card details? No bloody thank you very much. Just imagine little Tommy using his parents CC to sign up for Facebook then wanting some extra gems and posting a pic of themselves at the beach.

    Protect the children? make social media take the rap for abuse carried out on its networks. If they are monetising the user submitted content they need to check every post, image and video. No excuses, the business model is not my concern.

  2. Khaptain Silver badge

    Protective laws for all by défault

    I agree that children should be protected but the powers in be should enforce that all users also have the same protection by default.

  3. Joe Harrison

    NSPCC are obsessed with regulating and monitoring the internet

    This is not their first go at it. Of course their status as GCHQ official charity is mere coincidence.

  4. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    AI's not going to help much

    The whole "use AI" thing makes me shudder as it shows a lack of understanding of what the issues are, instead invoking magic terms.

    But, within their quote it stuff that _would_ help:

    sites to

    - turn off friend suggestion algorithms for children and young people,

    - for their accounts to have the highest privacy settings – such as geo-locators switched off by default, contact details being private and unsearchable

    - live-streaming limited to contacts only.

    Even better, make that the default for *everyone* and suddenly you've done away with the challenge of identifying a kid that's lied about their age (or conversely an adult who has done so).

    Make the default settings sane and protective of privacy, and you've suddenly taken a massive leap forward, because children won't be so easily discoverable (nor will anyone else), and the social networks won't be harvesting fuckloads of data on location etc in order to inevitably have it leak from the unsecured S3 bucket they were using.

    The problem statement is even there later in the article

    > This means the website is likely to assume they are an adult years before their real 18th birthday, and they will lose any protection put in place for minors, making them vulnerable to online predators.

    Not an issue if the default's are set to be protective.

    Groomer's can encourage children to weaken their settings - so that's still an issue - but with *safe* defaults there's the question of how those groomers would find the child in order to encourage them to weaken their settings so that they can... find them.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: AI's not going to help much

      Children are going to want to connect with their classmates. If the default settings make that impossible, they will quickly learn how to change them, and then the paedos will be able to connect with them as well. Remember that children tend to be more capable of doing these things than the grown-ups.

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: AI's not going to help much

        Children are going to want to connect with their classmates

        Currently, Facebook and their ilk are so obsessed with mapping your life down to which way you wipe in the bog (if they could) they harass you over every single person someone you know happens to 'be connected to'. Over e-mail as well as every time you login (it's very easy to click the wrong button and end up accepting a link you didn't intend).

        It's like join the dots with a real anal freak (proly not P.C. but who cares, I'm one and i don't mind it) who feels uncomfortable for every dot not linked to an adjacent.

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Re: AI's not going to help much

        Why would the default settings make it impossible? That's an insane position.

        The default settings just need to stop/reduce discoverability. Child 1 enters the email address (or FB username, or something else) of Child 2, they're friends.

    2. adnim

      Re: AI's not going to help much

      What you say makes a lot of sense and should be the default setting for *EVERY* new social media account.

      Children and both adults can lie about their age though. And depending on authentication method can easily forge a truth.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    use AI to detect suspicious grooming behaviour

    but but... I thought that blockchain would solve this in no time?! Or even chaimail? :(

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: use AI to detect suspicious grooming behaviour

      If we were all in chainmail it would solve a lot of problems.

      Who gets to keep the keys?

      No, wait, I'm thinking of chastity belts, another type of metal clothing.

  6. fnusnu

    Will nobody think of...

    ...asking the parents to take responsibility?

    1. Pete4000uk

      Re: Will nobody think of...

      Well if it keeps the kids quiet...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Will nobody think of...

      Most do, I monitor my daughters internet activity down to actually sitting with her whilst she plays Roblox, Minecraft etc. I'm not spying on here "we" are playing the game, she loves having me hang out with her as from her perspective I'm just making conversation.

      In reality I'm vetting who she's talking to and ensuring she understands about what she can and can't share online. I also discuss that not everyone is nice, there are bullies etc and she's very open about talking to me about bad online experiences..

      I'm sure most parents do something similar, talk to their kids but there will be a few who don't - those are the kids at risk, so we're all branded as idiots due to a small sample of daft brainless parents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Will nobody think of...

        There are some parents, often single ones, who have to work so many extra hours to put food on the table they may have less time to monitor their children than others who have less troubles to make ends meet.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Will nobody think of...

          Try to spend some time helping others, downvoter, instead of looking at your belly button, and you'll see how many families struggle on bad paying jobs, and have to work while you can spend time with your children.

          Who do you believe clean your office, prepares and brings you food at home or at your restaurant table, keeps the shops open while you shop with your children, etc. etc.

          Really, the selfish elitarian troll really disgust me. Try to put yourself in someone else's shoes, sometimes.

  7. Mike Shepherd

    Won't *someone* think of the computers

    I worry about the AI algorithms that have to see this stuff every day.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021