Habbo Hotel: NSPCC urges government and technology industry to act
Posted in: Child Protection&Online Safety at 15/06/2012 14:08
The technology industry and government should do more to protect young internet users from potential abuse, the NSPCC has warned in the wake of revelations about highly sexualised content on Habbo Hotel, a virtual world popular with children and teenagers.
Sulake, the Finnish company that owns Habbo, which has about 15 million users a month across more than 100 countries, has suffered a series of setbacks since a Channel 4 News investigation found seemingly routine occurrences of sexualised or violent online chat on the site, as well as sexual approaches to young participants.
Second Habbo Hotel investor 3i checks out
The biggest investor in Sulake, parent company of Habbo Hotel, has withdrawn its funding in the light of accusations that the network harboured paedophiles.
Venture capital firm 3i owned a 16% share in the company.
Sulake has suspended chat on the network after revelations that Habbo was used to groom youngsters for sex. The chief executive said he was reviewing long term plans for the site.
Habbo Hotel: Let's not kid ourselves that 'the internet' is our biggest problem
Let's not kid ourselves that 'the internet' is our biggest problemMuch has been made of the righteous Channel Four News investigation into online game Habbo Hotel. A Channel Four producer signed up to the site describing herself as an eleven year old, and found that she was being inappropriately approached by people on the site. She was apparently asked if she would chat elsewhere, go on webcam, and 'how far' she would go. Naturally, this is disturbing and has provoked outrage - to the extent that a Habbo Hotel investor has dropped its stake in Habbo's owner, Sulake.
Unfortunately, Habbo Hotel is undoubtedly not the only 'social' or gaming website where this happens. Where there is a crowd of youngsters online, there is bound to be an attraction for people who want to exploit them - whether they are their peers, or much older. It's somewhat of an unintentional curse of the development of the online world that it's difficult to ascertain whether or not someone is who they say they are. Anyone could sign up to any website and claim to be a 15 year old boy or girl, and no one would really know. And in reality, until we are all given internet 'passports' (please no!) there will never be a solution to the fact that anonymity comes with the territory. But let's not kid ourselves that 'the internet' is to blame, or that this is a new phenomenon. It has simply made it much easier for predators to find and access their victims.