What’s fair to expect of Facebook, or any social networking site, when kids use the site as a weapon against each other? That’s the question explored by this story in Slate magazine, which begins by describing the experience of a 13-year-old boy who was questioned by school administrators about insulting comments he’d made about his classmates on his Facebook page. Trouble was, he didn’t have a Facebook page; someone else had created the page using his name. Facebook took down the fake page after the mother sent eMails to the site’s inbox for reporting abusive content, but Facebook “does not have a contact number where you can talk to anyone,” she complained. “They did not answer any of the eMailed questions, they only took down the page.” She is most upset that Facebook wouldn’t tell her who the impersonator was. “In my mind I feel unresolved, because we don’t know who did this. It’s like the perfect crime. You can wreck someone’s life or future, certainly impact their relationships, with impunity.” Some parents are frustrated at a federal law that prevents the sites from identifying their users, unless you have a subpoena in hand. Given that law, the main remedy Facebook and other social network sites can offer is taking down an offending post or page and punishing the person who put it up, either with a warning or by deleting their whole profile. How and when social networking sites go about such policing of their users, however, is up to them…

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Maya Prabhu