3. Murky Actors
We’ve written extensively about the dangers the dark web poses for our children. Typically, the conversation revolves around bad actors and their bad deeds: a hacker busting into a hospital database and stealing thousands of health records, for example, or a sicko paying for infant pornography.
What often gets left out of the discussion is all the infrastructure that’s enabling these criminals to peddle their illegal wares. You need a lot of it — a platform and host like WordPress, a domain, and an internet service provider, bare minimum. If any one of those channels gets bottlenecked, down goes your soapbox.
Here’s where our kids come into the equation.
Legally, service providers aren’t liable for the user content that ends up on their platforms.7 (This is a huge conversation, but that’s the gist.) More worrisome for parents: They don’t particularly care who owns it as long as they’re paying rent. How many of those users are exploiting children? Last year, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children logged 29 million reports of possible online child sexual abuse.8
This doesn’t have to be the case. Just ask the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer, which got ousted from the internet in 2017.9 If you ask me, it’s about time the companies in charge show a little muscle against the human cockroaches lurking in the web’s unlit cracks.
Until then, parents, beware.
What you can do:
- Stay on top of the conversation surrounding accountability for internet platforms and service providers. We need free speech online if we want the internet as we know it to keep running. However, the laws governing it are long past due for an overhaul that would protect our kids better.
- Petition your local lawmakers. Make them take the issue seriously. They need all the help they can get to understand the issue.
Did You Know? Anti-human trafficking nonprofit Thorn reports that 1 in 7 children ages 9 to 12 admitted to sharing a nude picture online in 2020. Half of those children said they’d sent a photo to someone they didn’t know in real life, and 41 percent of them knew the recipient was an adult.10