What parent could have read Wednesday’s horror story about the sexually explicit Facebook page and not sympathized with its young victims?
One might argue that some of the 10 or so Schenectady County teens featured on the page brought the notoriety upon themselves by posing for suggestive photographs that they then apparently gave to the wrong “friends;” or by engaging in sexual activities with people inclined to gossip about it afterward — though there’s no way of knowing whether the claims of alleged activities on the page were real or just malicious lies.
Regardless, people that age often make errors in judgment — heck, even supposedly mature adults like Rep. Anthony Weiner do — and teens, at least, should be forgiven for doing so.
What’s disturbing is how easily social media like Facebook allow people to post basically anything they want, and they can get away with it largely because it’s done under a shield of anonymity. Thanks to the First Amendment such postings may not be illegal — though we think a good prosecutor could persuade a jury that they constitute harassment. And they sure are cowardly.
There have been any number of stories in recent years of people — teens as well as adults — getting into trouble “sexting,” but obviously not everyone is aware of them. Or, naively, they think it can’t happen to them. Or they’re too trusting (love, after all, is blind), or they’re willing to take the risk for love or a cheap thrill.
Parents are obligated to make sure their kids understand the power of the Internet, and the consequences this sort of behavior can bring.
Ditto, really, anyone who takes part in any the Internet’s social media. Facebook et al. are far from the benign vehicles for social intercourse that their users tend to think of them as. It’s far too easy to abuse them, and when they are abused, victims have a hard time finding recourse.