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Facebook ‘in the dark over paedophiles using its site’

FACEBOOK does not know how many under-13s or sex offenders are among its 40million users in the UK, the Inquiry Into Child Sex Abuse has heard.

The social media giant also has no method to verify if a given date of birth is correct or if new users are on the sex offenders register, according to Julie de Bailliencourt, its senior global operations manager who gave evidence yesterday.

Asked if Facebook knew how many sex offenders could be on or seeking to use the platform, she replied: ‘No, and I think one of the difficulties — and that’s really related to the UK — is this registry’s not open to the public, so I would hazard law enforcement may be best placed to understand the scope.’

Asked if it used open source methods to identify possible offenders Ms de Bailliencourt, said: ‘We don’t make this check at this time.’

She did not know how many under 13s use the platform but Facebook has ‘technical hurdles’ to stop under-age users registering, and teachers, parents or family members can report an account.

She said Facebook had 30,000 people working on ‘safety and security’, and content that may indicate a child in danger is reported to the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The inquiry also heard from the mother of a sister and brother who were aged 12 and 13 when they were abused through the now-defunct BearShare app, by Anthony O’Connor, 57.

The siblings are not eligible for compensation because the abuse took place wholly online. Their mother said: ‘I feel very strongly that people who create the websites should take responsibility.

‘They should be the ones paying compensation to my children.’

The hearing continues.

THERESA MAY will today urge governments and companies to work together to stop the sharing of hateful content online. The prime minister will tell the Online Extremism Summit in Paris that leaders should be ‘ambitious and steadfast’ in ensuring technology is not ‘weaponised’ by those who wish to inflict pain and suffering. She will say the live-streaming of the Christchurch mosque attacks, in which 51 people died, and terror attacks in the UK in 2017 exposed gaps in how authorities respond.