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Third of internet moderators have reported suspected online child abuse - study.

Nearly one third of the people who police the content of internet chatrooms and social networking sites have reported a suspected case of online child abuse, a study has found.

Twenty eight per cent of internet moderators, who monitor cyber activity on websites such as Facebook, Bebo and MySpace social networks, as well as internet chat rooms and online games, said they had seen suspicious activity and passed the information on to the authorities.

One hundred and thirty eight website moderating staff, whose job it is to try to make cyberspace safer by keeping an eye on internet traffic and interactions on key websites, were asked about their experiences of the threat posed to children online.

Almost half - 45 per cent - said they had reported a suspected suicide issue and 40 per cent had reported child safety issues to police or their local council.

The survey also found that, on average, internet moderators handled more than 50 violations of website conduct in a one hour shift.

Vulgarity was the most common violation dealt with by the moderators, with 41 per cent of those surveyed saying they had had to tackle the issue.

Sixteen per cent of moderators reported finding hate speech and 15 per cent identified bullying during live chat.

Fifteen per cent also said they had dealt with instances of users sharing personally identifiable information.

Online child protection specialists Crisp carried out the survey to "highlight the expertise of moderators and to reveal the growing challenges they face".

The company, which developed the Net Moderator programme to track online predators and bullies by monitoring thousands of web-based interactions at the same time, said the need for website moderators was "increasingly critical" as more and more children gained access to the internet.

They also pointed to statistics from the United States, suggesting there were 50,000 predators online.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 24, 2008
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