Sites that operate with such software still should have one professional on safety patrol for every 2,000 users online at the same time, said Sacramento-based Metaverse Mod Squad, a moderating service.
At that level the human side of the task entails “months and months of boredom followed by a few minutes of your hair on fire,” said Metaverse Vice President Rich Weil.
Other sites aimed at kids agree that such crises are rarities.
Sites aimed at those under 13 are very different from those with large teen audiences.
Companies can set the software to take many defensive steps automatically, including temporarily silencing those who are breaking rules or banning them permanently.
As a result, many threats are eliminated without human intervention and moderators at the company are notified later.
“The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible,” said Duncan, one of a half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed who praised Facebook for triggering inquiries.
Facebook is among the many companies that are embracing a combination of new technologies and human monitoring to thwart sex predators.
“There are companies out there that are more concerned about profitability.” Two recent incidents are raising new questions about companies’ willingness to invest in safety.Under a 1998 law known as COPPA, for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, sites directed at those 12 and under must have verified parental consent before collecting data on children.Some sites go much further: Disney’s Club Penguin offers a choice of viewing either filtered chat that avoids blacklisted words or chats that contain only words that the company has pre-approved.Metaverse uses hundreds of employees and contractors to monitor websites for clients including virtual world Second Life, Time Warner’s Warner Brothers and the PBS public television service.Metaverse Chief Executive Amy Pritchard said that in five years her staff only intercepted something terrifying once, about a month ago, when a man on a discussion board for a major media company was asking for the email address of a young site user.