Facebook as Hitbook, Sigh
Facebook and other social network sites offer much to celebrate. They have given new life to long-standing relationships and cemented new ones while providing innovative means to share ideas and engage with different communities. Offline relationships are extended online. Student groups meet in classrooms as well as on YouTube channels. Employees talk in the office and online (sometimes even to critique their bosses with co-workers, see Kashmir Hill‘s always- thought-provoking commentary).
Naturally, with all of this socializing comes the far darker side of human relationships. Social network sites sponsor threats, harassment, and hatred, leading to important, though always outmatched, voluntary efforts to address destructive behaviors. Given the scale of these sites, the Chief Safety Officers of those social network sites need help identifying malicious activity that their Terms of Service prohibit. This summer, Facebook and the police learned about another disturbing case: a Chester County man tried to use Facebook to hire a hit man to kill a woman who accused him of rape. In July, the woman called the police after seeing a posting on the man’s Facebook page that offered $500 for “a girls head.” The man later updated the posting, saying that he “needed the girl knocked off right now.” As the Huffington Post recently reported, the man pleaded guilty to rape, criminal solicitation of murder, and other counts.