Report Labels Habbo a "Pedophile Haven"

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Report Labels Habbo a "Pedophile Haven"

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A new report about pedophiles on Habbo is costing the game one of its biggest investors.

In operation since 2000, Habbo, formerly known as Habbo Hotel, is a social network/MMO aimed at young teenagers that draws in more than nine million unique visitors every month. But for all its success and popularity, it's also been saddled with a very unsavory reputation as a haven for pedophiles. The latest report, by U.K.-based Channel 4 News, claims that its reporter was confronted with "chats and interactions of an explicit sexual nature" each and every time she played the game, 50 times in total spread out over two months.

The claims are nothing new - The Escapist ran an article, "Will Bobba For Furni," that touched on the topic all the way back in 2007 - but this latest report suggests that the situation is far worse than previously suggested and completely out of control. "The chat was very sexual, perverse, violent, pornographic, overtly sexual acts, people saying they were going to do things to others, and it was very graphic," said producer Rachel Seifert. "Within two minutes I was being asked individually, 'Do you have a webcam?', 'Can we chat on MSN, on Skype?' I was also within a couple of minutes asked to strip, fully naked, and asked what would I do on a webcam."

In response, Paul LaFontaine, CEO of Habbo studio Sulake, released a statement saying that the company does everything it can to ensure the safety of its users. The company employs more than 225 moderators who track 70 million "lines of conversation" around the clock, and also works with child safety organizations and local police forces to "address inappropriate behavior."

"Habbo's leading safety systems were recognized as making the service one of the safest social networks in a 2011 European Commission report. Last year we were also awarded the commendation of 'Safer by Design' from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)," he wrote. "Through a combination of active moderation and user empowerment, we remain confident that we can continue to deliver the opportunity for our users to engage and communicate in a free but responsible manner."

In spite of those reassurances, investors are apparently growing uneasy with their association with the game. Balderton Capital, which currently holds a 13 percent interest in Sulake and is the company's second-largest shareholder, is expected to sell its holding and resign from the board of directors in the wake of the report.

"We were given some information a week ago that profoundly shocked us. We had to ask ourselves whether we were comfortable being investors in a business where children were not being adequately protected," a Balderton rep said. "We didn't take this decision lightly, as we have been investors in Sulake for over eight years, but the standards required to run a website that children have access to are very high. We felt the company was not meeting those standards."

Source: MCV

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Oh hi Myspace, I didn't recognize you for a second there.

*creates account*

What?

OT: I'm glad something is being done about this. So long as these measures are temporary and aren't continually used to criminalize the Habbo community after the threat of paedophiles have gone.

Jon Snow motherf@%kers! He will bring your Paedophile Tower crashing to the ground!

Yeah, ever played Habbo? Even 8 years ago it was filled with perverts so of course it got worse.

Not really surprising. Those kinds of places are full of all kinds of perverts, not just paedos. And to be honest, I bet a lot of that kind of explicit conversation is actually coming from the target audience. Young teens who are beginning to come in to puberty and having sexual interests, but feeling unable to talk about them openly. Plus the kind of people who are on these types of sites aren't exactly the most... socially experienced. They're not exactly normal. I know that sounds like a generalisation but I'm ashamed to say many years ago when I was younger I used use a thing like this for a short while, and the kind of people I described were abundant.

Oh, also if anyone is wondering, Channel 4 are a pretty well respected news source. Not quite highly regarded as the BBC but they're among the best in the UK.

Well that's sort of disturbing, although not exactly surprising. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if around half of that talk came from the target audience. Kids these days...

Oh god...I remember playing this as a kid...

So an online game where people can talk to each other has people trying to get cyber sex?
How do you propose this be stopped short of not allowing player to player communication investors?

Did the reporter pretend to be a child? If not, then it seems they have only outlined examples of lechery, not paedophilia. A girl getting hit on when she is 17 is hardly an example of paedophilia and the age of consent in UK (and most US States) is 16 years old.

"Rachel Seifert spent two months playing this seemingly innocent game posing as a young girl."

Hmm, suspiciously vague. And I don't think these games even advertise the user's age. And this is a game mainly for teenagers mainly.

It should be obvious to everyone that there is a HUGE difference between a high school romance and paedophilia... even though the high school sweethearts are both technically children.

I remember school, sexual jockying is way teenagers talk TO EACH OTHER and violence is reference flippantly and innocently. Can the company or any authority really except to stop teenagers being sexual to each other? How do you make sure none of their users are OVER 18!!?!?! This seems to be a double standard, what is OK in the playground is unacceptable in a video game because, err, I guess old people will say "Well they didn't have video games when I was a kid".

I think we need to be careful and cool the inner Jack Bauer in us before we start any ends-justify-the-means knee jerk reaction.

Do we ACTUALLY have cases of adult men exploiting pre-pubescent or barely pubescent girls?!? OR... do we just have a case of teenage boys being lecherous to teenage girls.

Remember, this game isn't target to anyone under 13 year old. I'd like to hear from anyone here who went to a co-ed school through ages 13-18 you never heard nor were involved in any sexual activity... who weren't in the mathletics team.

Haha, Pool's Closed!

But yeah, these kind of games are breeding grounds for this kind of shit. Look at Runescape as well.

I just have to wonder how this is any different from letting your 14 year old go out alone without a policeman escort to moderate every interaction they could have.

The difference with online games from "just go outside and play" is any physical contact or abduction is impossible in this game and EVERYTHING is recorded to be used against then and their home addressed can be traced. I think these online networks are VITAL, children should go these places first where they can learn of the dangers with hardly any of the risks.

Remember in the UK it is excepted that children as young as 9 years old are supposed to walk by themselves to school and return by themselves and are pretty much left to their own devices between school ending and their parents returning from work. Regular organised and dedicated school buses are not seen in the UK.

I always thought that there SHOULD be a regimented school bus system like there is in the United States, parents walk their kid to the pick up point and they stay there till they get on the bus that takes them directly to school. Yet parents in the UK are amazingly flippant to this risk with even little children going too and from school... because it has ALWAYS been that way!

But games, they're new. Any possible risk there is unacceptable. If some 15 year old boy asks a female classmate out on a date he better do it the old fashioned way or else he'll be branded a paedophile!

Heh, I remember when I was of the age when games like Habbo Hotel were cool except I played Coke Music, god damn do I ever miss mycokemusic, fuck that was a good game!

It really doesn't suprise me really, lonely people can get online and pretend they're whoever they want to me.

MMORPG: Mainly Men Online Role Playing Girls

The company employs more than 225 moderators who track 70 million "lines of conversation" around the clock, and also works with child safety organizations and local police forces to "address inappropriate behavior."

70 million "lines of conversation"... a day? If so, that's:
225 moderators * 8 hour days (let's say they do it every day of the week because the job doesn't sound hellish enough already) * 60 minutes in an hour * 60 seconds in a minute = 6,480,000 moderator-seconds per day.

That would mean each moderator would have to look at about 11 lines of conversation a second without blinking (or doing anything else) for it to be fully moderated.

These predators who keep rubbing their fetish in everyone's faces (including children) are giving us ordinary pedophiles a bad reputation.

Are we talking clinical paedophilia (13), common perception paedophilia which is whatever people set it to, legal paedophilia set to minor age of said country, or biological paedophilia which is before the onset of puberty?

Formica Archonis:

The company employs more than 225 moderators who track 70 million "lines of conversation" around the clock, and also works with child safety organizations and local police forces to "address inappropriate behavior."

70 million "lines of conversation"... a day? If so, that's:
225 moderators * 8 hour days (let's say they do it every day of the week because the job doesn't sound hellish enough already) * 60 minutes in an hour * 60 seconds in a minute = 6,480,000 moderator-seconds per day.

That would mean each moderator would have to look at about 11 lines of conversation a second without blinking (or doing anything else) for it to be fully moderated.

I think the way it is supposed to work is that inappropriate comments get reported where the entire chat log is viewed by moderators and traced back.

But I wonder if the reporter on this story actually "reported" any of these cases of abuse to the moderator when even a child would know from constantly being warned to report these sort of things. The news article never mentions anything of any reporting process.

I think the problem is not moderators being overwhelmed, it is them not being informed to ever be able to take action. It's like complaining that the police don't investigate a murder when no one ever reports anything, not even a missing person report.

next stop. Club penguin! Is it haven for pedos? Tune in next week to find out!

I'm pretty sure their are teens in their target demographic saying those things as well. Can't really be sure it's all pedophilia unless every anonymous user is being uncharacteristically honest and vocal about their age.

Goddamn! I stopped playing on Habbo years and years ago, and while I remember maybe one or two suspicious advances, they were never that frequent or that aggressive. Did things really go so bad since I left? Well, it is Channel 4 News though, so I'm not sure how big a pinch of salt I should take this with.

Boris Goodenough:
Are we talking clinical paedophilia (13), common perception paedophilia which is whatever people set it to, legal paedophilia set to minor age of said country, or biological paedophilia which is before the onset of puberty?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this in fact qualifies as ephebephilia(sp?) instead of pedophilia, since it's implied that the victims are young teenagers, probably between the ages of 13 and 17 I'd say.

Doesn't really excuse the act (especially since this isn't all that surprising given the setting), but I'm with you on how people should get their terms straight.

Kroxile:
Haha, Pool's Closed!

If they lose their investors, it will be more than just AIDS they have to worry about now.

=y:

Kroxile:
Haha, Pool's Closed!

If they lose their investors, it will be more than just AIDS they have to worry about now.

Was starting to worry that no one would get that, lol.

Rovio with their mad birds and now Habbo. It's Finnish days in the Escapist newsroom it seems.

I remember when it began getting national recognition around 2000. Nine million now, huh? Crazy.

Treblaine:
Did the reporter pretend to be a child? If not, then it seems they have only outlined examples of lechery, not paedophilia. A girl getting hit on when she is 17 is hardly an example of paedophilia and the age of consent in UK (and most US States) is 16 years old.

"Rachel Seifert spent two months playing this seemingly innocent game posing as a young girl."

Hmm, suspiciously vague. And I don't think these games even advertise the user's age. And this is a game mainly for teenagers mainly.

It should be obvious to everyone that there is a HUGE difference between a high school romance and paedophilia... even though the high school sweethearts are both technically children.

I remember school, sexual jockying is way teenagers talk TO EACH OTHER and violence is reference flippantly and innocently. Can the company or any authority really except to stop teenagers being sexual to each other? How do you make sure none of their users are OVER 18!!?!?! This seems to be a double standard, what is OK in the playground is unacceptable in a video game because, err, I guess old people will say "Well they didn't have video games when I was a kid".

I think we need to be careful and cool the inner Jack Bauer in us before we start any ends-justify-the-means knee jerk reaction.

Do we ACTUALLY have cases of adult men exploiting pre-pubescent or barely pubescent girls?!? OR... do we just have a case of teenage boys being lecherous to teenage girls.

Remember, this game isn't target to anyone under 13 year old. I'd like to hear from anyone here who went to a co-ed school through ages 13-18 you never heard nor were involved in any sexual activity... who weren't in the mathletics team.

You only read the report, didnt you?

The actual news report covered two cases of pedos in the UK usign the website as a grooming tool, plus covers in depth how the situation is on the site.

So yes, there are cases of adult men exploiting pre-pubescent or barely pubescent girls using the website. Sure, there is going to be a lot of cases of teenage males doing the same but hell, still a crime.

And the game is actually targetted at those above the age of 13, it has an age restriction (That is ignored, naturally) but still.

Go watch the report. Then post.

We need to get everyone out of there until we can determine who all the pedophiles are.

The pool of users needs to be closed.

This so reminds me of this old Brass Eye episode...

Alterego-X:
These predators who keep rubbing their fetish in everyone's faces (including children) are giving us ordinary pedophiles a bad reputation.

I can't be the only one that finds this comment extremely disturbing? So you are a good pedophile? wtf?!

Alterego-X:
These predators who keep rubbing their fetish in everyone's faces (including children) are giving us ordinary pedophiles a bad reputation.

I admit, this made me laugh harder than it should have.

Don't most of those social games for kids draw the wrong sort of attention? I'm surprised they're only looking into that one.

Maybe it's worse there, actually that's quite likely seeing as it's aimed for young teenagers who tend to have a bit more freedom with their computers and a bit less sense.

Wait, did I just refute my own statement?

Yan007:

I can't be the only one that finds this comment extremely disturbing? So you are a good pedophile? wtf?!

If he/she hasn't perpetrated, then yeah a good one, it's not exactly something they wish to be/have.
Or are we going to arrest people for thought crimes now and put them in camps?

NinjaDeathSlap:
Goddamn! I stopped playing on Habbo years and years ago, and while I remember maybe one or two suspicious advances, they were never that frequent or that aggressive. Did things really go so bad since I left? Well, it is Channel 4 News though, so I'm not sure how big a pinch of salt I should take this with.

Well considering how selectively vague the details are I'd say about this much of a pinch:

image

This sounds like the type of stuff that if someone posted it on a forum they'd be called a troll, but because the media is a one-way interaction and they can ignore and be selective with addressing criticisms

"interactions of an explicit sexual nature"

What precisely? Something like "tits or GTFO". Turns out it's stuff like "hurr hurr, I'm touhing ur bewbs" and "virtual kissing" whatever that is or isn't.

"pink teddy bears"

Hardly a prominent feature. This makes it seem like it's a pre-schooler's learning game when it's more like a hip-teen virtual bikini beach party.

"posing as a young girl"

Clicking through she claims to be posing as an 11 year old, even though all the female clearly have breasts and proportions of adult females. How did she "pose" as an 11 year old when she herself was not and her avatar did not look prepubescent. So all this talk of her talking with 10 year olds, they shouldn't even be on the game.

Do secondary schools (high schools, either way 13-18 year olds) freak out that their buildings are full of teenagers that are kissing? No, they hand out free condoms. And this is just VIRTUAL kissing?!?!?

"explicit sexual nature"

Teenagers talking about sex, in explicit terms... is this channel 4 or is this the Conservative Christian Crusaders? And did she ever say that she didn't like this explicit language and subject matter? Did she ask it to stop, leave then it didn't? Report it to moderators?

"The chat was very sexual, perverse, violent, pornographic, overtly sexual acts, people saying they were going to do things to others, and it was very graphic."

Any actual crimes being committed? Anyone under age involved in any actual indecent assault? How are WORDS pornoGRAPHIC? What kind of violence? Just saying "herp, I'm going secretly to pretend to be 11" doesn't make it padeophilic. No one under the age of 13 is even allowed to register on Habbo.

"Within two minutes I was being asked individually..."

Within 2 minutes of what!?? There is NOTHING before or after this stating what this is from. She was on this service for 2 months. Did she report this to moderators? Did she specifically admonish him for asking such a thing? Did she ever try to "entrap" the person? How does she know it wasn't another teenager?

This is trash journalism. It's a "juicy" story that doesn't have any weight to it nor any discussion value, it's just something to get outraged over and keep people tuning in.

The game has rules, no one under 13 puts it on par with any school and moderators are there to be used if only people will actually report things. This "journalist" broke the game, she broke the rules as a fake 11 year old (2 years under the age limit) and didn't seem to report any contact she didn't want.

Boris Goodenough:

Yan007:

I can't be the only one that finds this comment extremely disturbing? So you are a good pedophile? wtf?!

If he/she hasn't perpetrated, then yeah a good one, it's not exactly something they wish to be/have.
Or are we going to arrest people for thought crimes now and put them in camps?

Arguing that there can be "good pedophiles" is a slippery slope. Unless said pedophile gets help in the form of physical or chemical castration then that person remains a very real risk.

People still frequent Habbo hotel? Back in 2001, yeah, certainly. I got the impression the perverts all moved on to the graphically superior, Uncanny Valley of the Dolls that is IMVU.

Yan007:

Arguing that there can be "good pedophiles" is a slippery slope. Unless said pedophile gets help in the form of physical or chemical castration then that person remains a very real risk.

Slipptery slope to what? That innocent people are innocent until they do/start doing the crime?
Should we also incarcerate cleptomaniacs, just to be safe?

Boris Goodenough:

Yan007:

Arguing that there can be "good pedophiles" is a slippery slope. Unless said pedophile gets help in the form of physical or chemical castration then that person remains a very real risk.

Slipptery slope to what? That innocent people are innocent until they do/start doing the crime?
Should we also incarcerate cleptomaniacs, just to be safe?

No, but you should keep an eye on them and make sure not to leave them alone in a room full of stuff they could steal.

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