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Perverts on the Loose, Or Just Fox News Unleashed?
It depends on how you do the math.
Fox News came out with a story that the network's investigators did a five-second search of Facebook on Sept. 23 and uncovered "dozens of pages" devoted to the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and "hundreds of links" to the organization.
Wow! Dozens of pages? Hundreds of links? Really?
No, not really. Facebook officials tell CBS News that Fox, when pressed, provided links to four or five groups (none of which had more than 15 to 25 members each). CBS News reports the links were immediately disabled and the accounts were canceled.
This is a far cry from the first Fox News report that made Facebook sound like Perv Central when it announced "pedophiles find a home for social networking."
Hemanshu Nigam, co-chairman of President Barack Obama's Online Safety Technology Working Group, absolutely fumed about the issue.
"This is just the downright filthiest of society setting up on Facebook in a public way, and the question is, 'Why is Facebook allowing this?' " he told Fox.
CBS News reveals Nigam used to work as chief security officer for MySpace, Facebook's biggest competitor, something Fox News did not report.
Facebook explicitly prohibits posting content that advocates child exploitation.
"I will say that Facebook is very aggressive about booting sex offenders off their site," Steve Rambam, director of the investigative agency Pallorium, tells CBS News.
Of course, that doesn't stop pedophiles from trying.
Facebook officials tell CBS user feedback helps them flag predators. They also have reportedly started an automated system to weed out undesirables.
"This is something we need to be prepared for -- content put up again after we have it taken down," a spokesman for Facebook tells CBS. "It's a constant effort."
NAMBLA spokesman Arnold Schoen lashed out at Fox the day after the story was posted.
"If you really investigated, you would learn that actually we have never set up any pages on Facebook," he told the network. "And we certainly haven't ever used Facebook to connect with our members, to find or exchange photos, to 'hone predatory behavior' or to 'identify, target and reel in child victims.' This is a wild fantasy boogeyman Fox News is holding up for their fans."
Fox News posted his comment in an update to the story, but as of Sept. 30, offered no corrections or clarifications to its original report.
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