The Philippines has the eighth largest Facebook population in the world with over 16.8 million users, according to Facebakers.com, an independent analyst of Facebook usage statistics. Included in this number are our some children and youth, some of them still minors. In this regard, the Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday, October 21, 2010, issued public safety guidelines on the use of Facebook, urging parents to monitor their childrens’ use of the social media site.
The move comes just two weeks after the PNP issued a statement on the growing incidence of sex crimes in the country, facilitated by the popularity of Facebook and other social media.
The PNP told parents to “learn to use Facebook to monitor the safety of their children” and to “take note of (other) adults being friends of their children especially if the child is still a minor.”
The police encouraged parents to set up their own Facebook accounts and to link to their childrens’ accounts. The police said that by so doing, the patents will be able to observe and identify the friends and activities of their kids without having to get their account details.
“Check the information posted by your children. Sometimes they can become careless, unaware, and lured into giving information that will lead to being a victim,” the PNP cautioned.
“They have networking, they have ‘clans’, they invite youths to join. Then they initiate them and included in this are sexual activities,” PNP spokesman Sr. Supt. Agrimero Cruz told Agence France Press.
Complicating the matter is the fact that there is as yet no clear jurisprudence on cybercrime in the Philippines, making it difficult to assess the extent of such offences.
“We are investigating this because our laws are not yet clear on this. We just treat it as rape,” Cruz explained.
“We just brought this out to warn the public. In different parts of the world, this is already happening, kaya ina-advance lang namin (so we’re putting this out there in advance),” he said. “It’s a proactive measure, not only for the public but also for the police themselves.”
The rest of the PNP advisory dispensed practical tips on the use of Facebook that are relevant not just to parents but also to anyone who would want to stay safe on the social network. Some of these tips include:
•Hide yourself from Facebook search results.
•Limit your personal information.
•Protect your picture albums.
•Avoid chatting with people you don’t know.
•Never forget to sign out.
“The Facebook Company has no exact way of protecting our account. It should start from us to protect ourselves and children because the cyber criminal is just out there ever waiting for that opportunity,” the PNP concluded.
With reports from:
PNP Warns Parents Over Kids’ Facebook Use
TJ DIMACALI, GMANews.TV