Dr Christine Harrison, from the University of Warwick’s Centre for Lifelong Learning, is an experienced social worker who has co-ordinated and taught child care and child protection social work for the last 25 years. She carries out research in a number of areas, including images of child abuse.
She said: “I am entirely in tune with what the NSPCC has said; I think Facebook has at best been irresponsible and at worst colluded with something which is possibly a criminal offence and certainly in the UK would meet criteria for triggering a child protection enquiry.
“The problem with digital technology and social media is that they seem to be dominated by this idea that freedom of expression overrides other considerations. In this case, both child and parent are anonymous, but that doesn’t, in my view, lessen Facebook’s responsibility.
“It’s much easier when you don’t know who a person is to broadcast something, but this isn’t just about what that person was doing or intended to do and the fact the child stops crying is neither here nor there really. This is about how other people interpret the images when they see them and that’s where there can be and should be great concern.
“Whenever there’s an issue like this Facebook and platforms like it must err on the side of caution – it would be bad enough if it was an adult but this is a small child and yes, the person changed the hold on the baby, but it’s still totally unacceptable. Facebook is trying to rationalise its stance after the event and it’s not convincing. They must take more responsibility.
“The broader issue here for all forms of digital media is the general desensitising of imagery. It’s almost as if anything goes and I just don’t see why Facebook should be any less responsible than say a newspaper or a magazine – they wouldn’t just let reporters stick any old image up, there’s editorial control – and arguably it’s more important for social media. Millions of people, within a blink of an eye, have access to it, particularly children, who exchange these images on mobile phones, which is also a concern.”
Notes to Editors:
Dr Christine Harrison is available for interviews. We have in-house broadcasting facilities for TV and radio. We have an ISDN line for radio and a remote camera (Globelynx TV Ready Network) for television interviews.
Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager at The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255. Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications Manager, University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255
Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221