Online predators and moral panics June 11, 2008Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Internet Safety, Moral panic, MySpace, News media.
The past couple of weeks the Danish social network site for teenagers, Arto, has repeatedly appeared in the news media. This is due to the fact that a journalist from the Danish tabloid newspaper Ekstra Bladet created a false profile on Arto where she pretended to be a 13 year old girl and got into contact with a number of older men. During a year the undercover journalist communicated through MSN Messenger with four older men (from the age of 35 – 72) who all had a keen interest in meeting the girl IRL. The correspondence between the men and the apparent 13 year old girl had many sexual undertones and some of the men openly indicated that they wanted to have sex with, what they believed was, the 13 year old girl.
When the physical meetings were finally arranged the news paper revealed the truth and the following days they published a number of articles where they – one by one and with video documentation – exposed the men as predators and child molesters.
We have previously seen similar stories in the Danish news media, and the purpose of this blog post is not to comment on these specific news stories, which are part of the ongoing moral panic, which I commented on in an article I wrote in October 2006. However, the public debate that follows sensational cases like these is interesting. (more…)