On the day I found out I was pregnant with Sophie, even though we had been trying for a baby I had a definite "Oh crap!" moment. It had been almost twelve years since I'd had a baby! Thinking we were done, I didn't retain all that baby stuff in my head. It was like the first time all over again. So, with the help of Google, I found a site called BabyCenter. There was a due date estimator, and all kinds of information. Then I found the birth clubs - entire groups of women all due at the same time.
I joined the February 2010 club, but when Sophie came a week early I was moved somehow into the January 2010 group. I floated between both for a few months, but finally just settled on the January group and then two smaller spinoffs to smaller groups. We now communicate mostly by Facebook, but this small group of women have become good friends and remain amazing resources.
This morning, I saw a link to a post on the BabyCenter page, joking about the title. It was originally a generic, site-generated avatar, with "F***" (spelled out) as the title of the post. Normally, that alone will get a post deleted within minutes. After our friend posted the link, the creator changed the avatar to a graphic child pornography image. That person also added several photos of children engaged in sexual acts with adults to the message itself. Each birth club has a "photo club" associated with it, and the offender also uploaded pictures to that one, also. The photo club photos are usually shown on the main page, scrolling below the posts in "recent activity."
Can you imagine how disturbing this was to find this morning? What's even worse is that even after literally hundreds of reports and flagging for abuse, the BabyCenter administrators did NOTHING to remove the post or the photos. NOTHING. Once the post was flagged for abuse enough times, it automatically can't be opened, but the avatar was still graphically visible. The photo club pictures still showed up under "recent activity." Hundreds more unsuspecting users still saw these images.
Since the most insignificant of disagreements are deleted within minutes from the birth clubs on a regular basis, you'd imagine that graphic child pornography would be taken care of, right?
It took the administrators nearly TWELVE HOURS to fully remove the images from the board. That is absolutely unacceptable. I had a nice, happy post planned for today, but I can't let this go unheard. I have tweeted my disappointment with BabyCenter, posted on their Facebook page, and emailed the site administrators asking them to delete my account (since the users ourselves don't have that ability). Someone needs to be held accountable for this failure. I realize that it's a big site, and each post can't be monitored closely, but when literally hundreds of users are reporting an issue, and it's very clearly illegal, nothing ambiguous about those photos at all, something should be done in a timely manner. I know they have the technology. It's been done before. I know of one instance (still searching for the news story link, will update when I find it) that a user posted that she had found inappropriate photos of her child on her boyfriend's computer, and asked if it was a bad sign. Within a matter of days he was arrested by their local police department, solely because she asked the question in an "anonymous" online forum. If that can happen, why can the photos not be removed quickly?
As I'm writing this, I was sent a link to a post from one of the site's paid moderators saying they are reviewing their policies and practices to prevent this from further happening. Which is good, but is years too late. In the technologically advanced world we live in, a site so large and so public should have had a policy in place for dealing with this before going live.
Update: Thanks to my friend Angela, here is the news story about the older incident I mentioned, and this is the original post of the arrested man's wife (I remembered wrong, it was her husband not her boyfriend).