FACEBOOK has put up the shutters after coming under renewed pressure over the defacing of an online memorial for murdered schoolgirl Trinity Bates, the second such outrage in a week.Queensland Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson yesterday led calls for the US-based social networker to clean up its act, after the tribute site for the eight-year-old was plastered with pornography and obscene postings.
So-called cyber vandals last week targeted a similar Facebook testimonial for 12-year-old Brisbane boy Elliott Fletcher, who died in an alleged knife attack at his school. Images of child pornography and other sickening material swamped the site before Facebook pulled it down at the instigation of Queensland police. "I think there is a broader debate here about Facebook sites generally and about the control and establishment of them and the obvious ability for them to be hijacked by people who really, quite frankly, have very sick values," Mr Atkinson told ABC radio.
Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last week said Facebook held a position of trust in the community, and needed to explain what went wrong with its site security and how future acts of cyber vandalism could be averted.
His office yesterday referred The Australian to the Australian Federal Police, which said it was liaising with Queensland police over the latest incident.
Facebook, however, was not prepared to answer questions.
Through a public relations firm in Sydney, Facebook refused to make available the man touted as its "face" in Australia, regional vice-president Paul Borrud.
While Mr Borrud has been happy to discuss Facebook's local advertising prospects, the PR consultant insisted site security was not his area, and comment had to come from head office in the US.
The Australian has been waiting for a week for Facebook to make an executive available for interview. So far, the company's response has been limited to an emailed statement from director of communications and public policy Debbie Frost saying Facebook is "highly self-regulating", and encourages users to "report objectionable content so we can investigate and take action".