Habbo scare is nothing new, it’s been happening for more than 14 years

FFS…

Previously under the guise of different pixels, the kind of behaviour that Channel 4 News has highlighted on Habbo Hotel is nothing unusual. As someone who began using the Internet way back in 1996, you can trust me that this info isn’t new. But what annoys me is that Channel 4 News has pretty much absolved parents of any parental responsibility in keeping their children safe online.

Apart from ignoring the fact that children under the age of 13 who are using Habbo are actually breaking the terms and conditions for the service by even using it, (the adult they had investigating the site, pretended to be an 11 year old girl), they ignored a lot of other things. They ignored how cyber sex between teenagers is not unusual and actually decided to label all sexual solicitations on the service to be the result of activity by pedophiles.

Habbo users have been pretty pissed by the coverage and I think rightly so. The service was already moderated and had a CEOP button. And guess what? Stuff similar to this was going on back when I use to use ICQ and IRC in 1998. That was 14 years ago. Our society has had 14 years to educate people about this crap. I’m pretty sure that’s long enough to get the message to parents and kids alike.

But no, Channel 4 News has treated the whole thing as something new. Under the previous government, there was the Byron Review (made public back in 2008), which had already made recommendations on how to educate the public (all ages) about the risks to kids and teens online. This isn’t a recent issue.

If people have failed to implement the findings of the Byron Review or listened to the experiences of pioneer net users from the last 10+ years – Habbo are not to blame.

I am fed up with technological ignorance on the part of huge swathes of the public being used as an excuse for people not to be aware of the risks of going online. People need to realise that just like walking down an actual street, you can be mugged, abused and disgusted before you even reach the corner shop when you’re using the Internet.

Moderation, like policing, can only do so much. It is up to the public to take charge of their own actions, whether they’re 9 or 99 years old.

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2 thoughts on “Habbo scare is nothing new, it’s been happening for more than 14 years

  1. Great post. This whole thing has wound me up. I loved how the woman who wrote the original article described habbo avatars performing stripteases and sexual acts as if there were actually animations of that sort coded into habbo. Also, the way she claimed to have just gone on the site to have an innocent look and was shocked by what she found. No, she went on the site with the sole reason of writing a shocking ‘expose’ article.

    Kids in their early teens, in general, will become curious about sex. Fact. If you went looking for sex in any teenage community, you’d discover it. It’s not necessarily paedophiles at all, it’s just kids talking about sex. Which they are going to do with or without habbo. It’s NATURAL and healthy.

    You can’t police every single line of conversation before it is displayed, just like you can’t police conversation in real life. It’d completely break habbo. I bet the real life conversations of teenagers would be equally as shocking.

    Habbo already have measures and filters in place that make it difficult for users to exchange personal contact information. Okay, they’re not fail proof but they’re not non-existent like the article would have you believe.

    The whole thing just stinks of some journalist wanting to further their career by kicking up a moral shitstorm. With investors and stockists now jumping ship and abandoning habbo, I can’t see it surviving in its current form much longer. Which is a shame. Kids will just find somewhere else to go. Just like I did back in the day when the yahoo chat rooms got shut down. And they will still talk about sex, with or without habbo, Not much will change from this crusade aside from the lives of the newly unemployed people that will surely lose their jobs over this.

    I’m on my phone and I know I’m not getting all my thoughts over as eloquently as I’d like but still. Yeah.

  2. Brilliant post! Totally agree! The way in which the media have portrayed Habbo is disgusting. The way they are making it out that everything that goes on on Habbo is a “new thing” and hasn’t been going on since Habbo was created? Bull shit. As a teenager, I know for a fact that wherever these kids are, sex will ALWAYS come into it at some stage. With or without Habbo kids and teenagers alike will talk about or re-enact sexual activities.

    As for the talk of paedophiles…I’ll grant them that one, as there is no doubt in my mind that somewhere in Habbo there a disgusting individuals who will be abusing the site to prey on young people. However, I refuse to be naive, this problem is not only on Habbo, never has been, never will be. There are paedophiles on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, to name just a few. In short these paedophiles are EVERYWHERE! Oh, and they’re not just on the internet either? So does that mean all young people should be removed from civilisation? No, because that is totally unrealistic and would never happen.

    I guess what I’m trying to say, is that there will never be a way to protect young people from others who would be willing to sexually exploit them. There will also never be a way in which the authorities will be able to remove sexual predators from the internet. This has been going on for years, and it is very unlikely to stop now. If Habbo Hotel is shut down I am sure the community will split onto other websites.

    As Jonny said, Habbo has measures in place to stop people revealing their personal information, but if someone wants to give it to someone, they will find a way.

    I’m sorry for the rant, totally agree with your post though!

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