Police investigating after child’s photo appears on pedophile website

Stephen Brun
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SUMMERSIDE – The RCMP is investigating how photos of a six-year-old girl from the Summerside area turned up on a website frequented by pedophiles.

Facebook’s privacy settings play an important role in protecting profile information and photographs posted on the social networking site, but police say many users don’t realize they have to change their settings.

Const. Shannon Hodder confirmed Thursday that the Major Crimes section was alerted to the matter due to a post on a Facebook site for P.E.I. parents.

Police say the photos of the girl were downloaded from a Facebook profile that didn’t have proper privacy settings in place, and were then uploaded to an online message board where pictures of young children are frequently posted.

Hodder said the incident appears to be isolated in terms of photos of children from P.E.I., and said the RCMP would issue a further news release Friday morning.

Const. Cheryl Duffy of the East Prince RCMP said it’s important for Facebook users to check all their privacy settings before posting photos or material they don’t want to make public.

“People create these Facebook accounts and they put all kinds of stuff up there, and photos,” said Duffy. “Unless they have their privacy settings on either ‘custom’ or for ‘friends only,’ anyone can search their Facebook and download their photos. That’s what happened in this situation.”

Although the post on the P.E.I. parents’ Facebook site says the privacy settings were in place on the account in question, Duffy said many people don’t realize that Facebook automatically sets most things to ‘public’ by default, leaving the onus on the user to change the privacy settings.

She suggested viewing YouTube videos that provide step-by-step instructions on setting Facebook privacy options, or using the ‘help’ function on the social networking site itself.

If you’re still unsure, Duffy suggests, have a friend or family member help with Facebook privacy settings. The settings can be accessed using the drop-down menu next to the ‘Home’ button at the top of the site.

While police are aware of the offending message board in this incident, Duffy added, those who download and post the pictures are often untraceable because they take measures to hide their identities online.

Organizations: RCMP

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Recent comments

  • Susan
    December 11, 2012 - 05:47

    NA, we all have a pedophile in our backyard and even if we don't we must live like we might. Scary world full of sick people.

  • NA
    December 03, 2012 - 07:10

    How were these pictures ever discovered on this site? Do we have a pediphile in our backyard?

  • me
    November 30, 2012 - 07:49

    Pictures can also be seen on Google if you search up someone's name even though the privacy settings are in place, which is why I deleted many of my pictures of my nieces and nephews. I tested this theory after a friend mentioned this to me, and the URLs to these images were not from Facebook. As much as I like sharing pictures of my nieces and nephews with friends and family off island, I would rather have them safe from perverted eyes.

  • Dawna
    November 29, 2012 - 23:16

    Hey Stephen! Thanks for the report!

  • Nancy Beth Guptill
    November 29, 2012 - 18:14

    How unfortunate.This is exactly why we have created student and parent information sessions on how to use the internet and social media for good. In the sessions, we discuss the importance of protecting you're online image, reputation and digital footprint. We just completed our sessions for 2012 and had an overwhelming positive response. We will be offering a much larger community event for parents in the Summerside area that will be open to the general public. Swert Spot Marketing, East Prince Women's Information Center will be offering the session in partnership with other community groups.