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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 7:59pm

I am a member of the monstorously large parenting site/forum www.babycenter.com. In the early hours of the morning an account was created solely to post graphic photos of hardcore child porn. These were photos of actual child rape--not bathtime photos. Horrified parents reported the photos and the account to the paid moderators over and over again, but the photos remained live on the site for 8-12 hours (accounts vary). 

They admit that they were not even aware this had happened until the photos had been live for several hours. Many people saw these photos and are really upset and traumatized by what they saw. I am just asking that if you have a few moments, if you could pass this: onto your local news station and/or any national news shows you feel may be interested. I, personally, sent it to Dr. Drew on HLN:

I would like to bring (News outlet)'s attention to today's controversy on the popular parenting website www.babycenter.com. During off hours, an account was created specifically to distribute hard core child porn. It was posted in such a way that it appeared on the front page of the website and on several of the high traffic groups with in. Due to no overnight moderation of the boards, and no standard operating procedures in place, the photos stayed live, on the site for between 8-12 hours, traumatizing many members, who were shocked and helpless in the situation.

Babycenter responded, but many members are not seeing reasonable answers about WHY this was allowed to happen or why there were no failsafes in place. We want answers.

avery of the dead's picture
avery of the dead from Kentucky is reading Cipher Sisters February 1, 2012 - 8:08pm

That is very upsetting.  I have a friend who goes on that site.  I'll forward this on to her.  Thansk.

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R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest February 1, 2012 - 8:18pm

Some things are funny, and some things are just sick. What possesses people to do this? 

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 8:33pm

Also, it has been brought to my attention that the parent company is Johnson & Johnson. 

@Avery, your friend probably knows about it if she has been on at all today. Seems everyone knew before the staff did.

I hope this doesn't come acorss as inappropriate, but some of my mom-friends and I have decided this needs national attention. There have been other cases (not so blatant) where the staff has dropped the ball regarding illegal content, and one high profile case that made the news where the members of a board reported a case of a parent having child porn--again, the moderators and staff were notified and did not contact authorities, did not act at all. THAT story had a happy ending. This story has left a lot of parents feeling very traumatized. I personally did not see the pictures, but from the reaction and descriptions from a friend who did, I am very fucking glad I did not.

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aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. February 1, 2012 - 8:35pm

There are just some images I do not want to see.  I can only imagine how it is for people who are parents. You should try to get them to address it, I'm sure the news media would have a field day with that one.

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R.Moon from The City of Champions is reading The Last Thing He Wanted by Joan Didion; Story Structure Architect by Victoria Lynn Schimdt PH.D; Creating Characters by the editors of Writer's Digest February 1, 2012 - 8:37pm

There should be no trial, no judge, no jury for people like that. Straight to the noose...

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 8:47pm

@Danny, I agree, that's why I brought it here. If enough people pass that form on to CNN, CNN will pay attention. Babycenter is a big enough site that it has "made news" frequently, sometimes good, sometimes bad--none as bad as this. I think the advertisers and investors should be aware and that the site should be held accountable for their failings. There are more failings than this particular one, but none so grave and disgusting.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 8:56pm

I'm going to play devil's advocate here, but what do you really want them to do? What was their response?

It's unlikely that the site knowingly posted this stuff to make you all angry. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of sites have a skeleton crew at most running them. 8-12 hours could simply be the time that whoever was in charge was off the clock.

I mean it sucks and this story is disgusting but they certainly didn't do anything purposefully wrong here.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:16pm

There response amounted to "oops, but if you care, here's what you can do next time", and then provided an e-mail address that, IME, when I was a "group owner" (a volunteer "moderator" for one small subgroup) took days if not a full week to recieve a response. Further, this is a company that partners with huge advertisers and is worth something like $19 million dollars. They may run a skeleton crew, but why? 

And lastly, there are failsafes in place to stop trolls and people posting hate speech. If an account is reported enough times it is flagged and cannot be viewed by the public. If something is posted within a group, the "group owners" can delete it (assuming they are on, in this case, some were) but the photos shared by flagged accounts, and the photos placed in "photo clubs" are untouchable by anyone other than the moderators, who are unreachable.

This isn't the first time offensive photos have been shared, this is not the first time the moderators have failed to deal with serious issues within the site, and in some instances crime, however this is the largest and most grievous of these instances and the people bringing the advertising dollars to them would like to know what they plan on doing to get a quicker response time, why, as a website with several international sister sites and an abundant profit margin they cannot find a way to respond to these things in off hours (or, as I mentioned, on hours, if you choose to take their advice and use the useless email).

The major problem here, Kirk, is that they have a "first line of defense" in the group owners but do not equip them with the power to handle such a situation or the ability to make contact with the paid staff when such a situation arises. They have no failsafes in place. And, to be blunt, a site that caters to parents of small children should be aware of pedophilia risks, in the 2.5years I have been a member, there have been many instances of people creating accounts in attempt to get fetishist photos of young children, including a repeat offender who wants pictures of babies' belly buttons. 

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 9:18pm

I found a response from them

We are equally as disgusted by these photos and agree that they were not removed quickly enough. That is unacceptable and we understand your disappointment and outrage. Throughout the day today, we have been working to determine additional safeguards we can implement immediately to prevent this from happening again. As fellow parents, we’d like to make sure everyone knows that if you ever see content like this anywhere online (or offline for that matter), you can report it to the FBI using this link. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/investigate/cyber/innocent/innocent And if that content is on BabyCenter, please send a note to community@babycenter.com immediately and we assure you, it will be addressed in a timely manner moving forward. Thank you.

They recognize something bad happened and are going to do what they can to make sure it doesn't happen in the future. What else should they do?

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:18pm

For enlightenment purposes, Kirk. It is not a community like this one--it has over a million members and it owned by Johnson & Johnson.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:20pm

Sorry, just saw your response. There was no explanation why it was not handled when the work day started. Twelve hours is a long time to pussyfoot around photos of child rape being on the front page of your website when your consumers are shreiking to have it taken down. There has been no explanation of why they waited once they got the initial reports, or why they allowed the site to remain live while the photos were up. Some sources both IT and law enforcement have argued that it would not be necessary to keep the site open to the public in order to collect the necessary evidence.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:21pm

And again, the email she provides is worthless. That would be like saying "if you see something like this happen again, please mail me a letter".

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 9:23pm

Well, I think those are legitimate concerns and points. If you feel strongly about it, certainly do what you think is right.

But, for all you know the site was exploited or hacked and the normal protocols didn't work. Yeah, that sucks, but it happens and sadly, you can't plan for every scenario. Sometimes, they have to happen before you find a vulnerability.

It's an awful situation to deal with and I can't imagine anyone on their staff is dealing with it lightly. 

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 9:27pm

I guess the bothersome question has to be asked...

Exactly how long could it have remined up without getting angry about the response time? Is 4 hours an acceptable response time?

In the end, a lot of people would have still been exposed to something awful.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:39pm

Kirk--there were other responses from the same person you quoted above that stated there were no protocols in place. I was trying to get screen caps of her posts on the issue when I realized they were being edited, but I didn't get on it fast enough. So, you'll have to take me at my word ;)

Talking to people in IT who have worked with law enforcement on similar issues, they have said IF law enforcement asked for it to be left up, and live it would be a maximum of two hours to get what was needed. That is IF. We don't know if that was asked of them, they have not offered that information despite requests for it. 

The real issue, IMO (and those I have been speaking with) is that there is no failsafe in place for reported photos. Only accounts. No failsafe and no graveyard shift pretty much guarantees a long turn over time whenever something happens when those paid moderators log off for the night. So, the issue is, there was no reason for it to take 12 hours. None. Once the moderators acted, it took about 3 hours (with the site live, which is another issue that has not been addressed). So, if there had been a way for the volunteers to contact someone, or a failsafe in place for reporting photos, or someone on the graveyard shift--3 hours. 

I mean, it takes however long it takes, but when a site draws in pedophiles, and has "photoclubs" that cannot be edited for 12 hours at a time--it is a little baffling.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 9:50pm

Yeah, it is a little odd that they would be so large and never have had to deal with something like this.

However, a site that large is probably distributed over multiple locations with reverse proxy and chache servers. Often times, this means that a really simple change can in fact literally take hours to happen.

The truth is, when something illegal happens on a company's servers, they often times can't comment as quickly as you would like because it does actually take a lot of work to figure out what exactly happened. When Sony had their PSN network hacked last year, it took their team more than a week to isolate what had happened and more than a month to fix it.

The reality is, a few people will stop using the site, and no one else will care. They'll go back to being as happy as they were beforehand. Just like 7 million people having their info stolen from Sony hasn't had any negative impact on their business.

Really though, such an ugly situation all around.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 9:58pm

I do appreciate your input, Kirk. Some of the things you have brought up I had considered, and some I had not. You are absolutely right that this will not get people to stop using the site, it is just as busy as ever. The main concern (and I am not sure if it got lost in all of that, because when I finally started putting the word out after  a day of discussing it and mulling over it, I got a little flustered answering a lot of questions) is why the site was left up while all this went on, and the fact that there is no oversight in the off hours. 

Part of the reason other members and myself are reporting this to news outlets and putting word out on the net is to create some accountability. They depend on their advertisers and I am sure their advertisers don't know about this--so rather than taking the "nothing will happen anyway" approach (which I have with this site over smaller issues so many times) I am taking the "let's try and make something happen" approach. We'll see. I'll let you guys know if I end up on the phone with Nancy Grace (God, I hope not...).

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 10:14pm

I'm just forgiving with this stuff because I know how it feels to be on this side of the situation (though never had to deal with something like this, thankfully). 12 hours sounds like a long time at first, but when I think about how most organizations are structured, it's actually not an unreasonable amount of time to me.

And if you end up on with nancy Grace, I will terminate your membership on principle! :D

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 1, 2012 - 10:15pm

That's why I e-mailed Dr. Drew, Kirk!! Someone suggested Nancy Grace and I said I would play no part in her show existing.

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Kirk from Pingree Grove, IL is reading The Book Of The New Sun February 1, 2012 - 10:17pm

Dr. Drew would be an acceptable media contact. Though I'm not entirely convinced he isn't actually enabling people's addictions.

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Typewriter Demigod from London is reading "White Noise" by DeLilo, "Moby-Dick" by Hermann Mellivile and "Uylsses" by Joyce February 2, 2012 - 10:40am

I'm going to play the opposition, and give you guys the answer: people did it for the lulz. I'm guessing, /b/ of one of the chans called it.

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 2, 2012 - 1:50pm

I can't get into a debate about Dr. Drew, I am too emotionally invested. I've been listening to Loveline since I was knee high to a grasshopper and all that.

@Typewriter--who gives a shit? It is dispicable. There is absolutely nothing funny about it, and distribution further victimizes the children involved and victimizes (to a far lesser extent) those who had to see it. It should be taken seriously, regardless of the intent. 

 

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Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray February 2, 2012 - 3:30pm

This is the most fucking disgusting thing I have ever read. Excuse my language but this is where I draw the line. There is nothing worse than people actually partaking in producing and the distribution of cp. Anyone victimizing  or sexually abusing a defenseless child can get sodomized in every orifice of their body by a functional ridged jack hammer.

Renee, I feel terribly sorry for you and any users on babycenter.com who witnessed this abomination. I am not a parent myself so I cannot even fathom yours (and others) disgust and disappointment in terms of the site's failed security measures.

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Biscuit Welsh from New York City, currently living in Richmond,Va is reading Kushiel's Chosen February 2, 2012 - 7:51pm

It sucks to have to see this for sure and I hope they implement better procedures to prevent this from recurring. But regardless if they're paid of volunteers, expecting moderators to be able to prevent this from ever happening again is like expecting bank tellers to prevent bank robberies.  There is no defense against malice and sufficient determination.

You mentioned that the site is owned by J&J-- rather than calling Dr. Phil who may or may not pay attention (after all, J&J is a sponsor), you may want to call Johnsons and Johnsons VP for Media Relations and ask him if he's aware of this:

Bill Price
Vice President, Corporate Media Relations
Office telephone: +1 732-524-6623 

Probably the most they'll do will be they'll fire a moderator or two, and maybe their manager.  Then they'll probably institute a policy that no new accounts can be opened without moderator approval. Maybe they'll go as far as not letting new accounts post for some number of days.  But that's probably enough to keep the trolls away.

 

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ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig February 4, 2012 - 1:52pm

Biscuit--Again, I never said I expected them to keep the pictures off line forever and ever. I said I expected them, with their size and attractiveness to pedophiles to have failsafes in place for reporting pictures in off hours and/or have a night moderatior, and, in the future, take the site offline when dealing with illegal content. Which, after speaking with a cybercrimes prosecutor, we have learned is actually what they should have done.

And people have already contacted J&J. We are attempting to get the media involved to help babycenter understand that when the dust has cleared, we still expect them to address these issues and not sweep it under the rug. And we're contacting several news outlets, not just Dr. Drew (and not Dr. Phil at all).

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Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu February 4, 2012 - 8:13pm

What I want to know is why the FBI or some other organization didn't step in and shut the website down. They could have shut it down until the mods were notified and the content was removed. I know there had to have been people reporting this to at least the police. Fucking sick bastards. I hope anybody who does that to children is fucking tortured. Plain and simple.

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Biscuit Welsh from New York City, currently living in Richmond,Va is reading Kushiel's Chosen February 4, 2012 - 8:25pm

Renee-  the Communicaton's Decency Act of 1996 gives sites such as babycenter immunity from criminal liability for illegal content that others post via their service.  The reason is as I said, malice and determination wins every time. The courts have consistantly upheld these laws.

Johnson and Johnson will likely claim with some justification that they were as much a damaged party as anyone in the whole affair.  And they will sweep it under the rug, doing the absolute minimum needed to make the irate customers go away. 

My point is that the threat of media exposure is much more motivating to J&J to ensure a fix to the problem than actual media exposure.