Private accounts targeted to create mock adverts selling their children to paedophiles
A mother in Farnborough whose two-year-old son was targeted by internet trolls has called the actions ‘shocking’.
Kerry Bishop, 20, said six pictures of her toddler were taken from her Facebook account and used to create mock advertisements selling him to paedophiles.
Dozens of explicit pictures and messages attacking other users were posted under various user profiles in August on the Facebook page called Items For Sale in Aldershot and Farnham, which is intended to allow users to advertise second-hand items.
Hampshire Constabulary confirmed it is investigating the matter, with officers telling one mother they were looking at what the guilty user was ‘liking’ on Facebook for clues as to where they might be located.
Miss Bishop said: “It’s so horrible. I was really shocked and frightened at first and had to stay at my parents’ house.”
She said police officers had told her they were 99% certain who the offender was and that he had made posts under several names on similar Facebook sales pages around the world, from Spain to Las Vegas.
Other posts on the page include pictures of babies seemingly being subjected to abuse and others of injured animals.
Cyber bullying and comments, often made anonymously, have come into the spotlight nationally as an increasing threat to internet users.
Another mother from Aldershot, who asked to remain anonymous, said she had been targeted after commenting on one of the pictures. Almost immediately she found that a picture of her daughter had been uploaded with a caption reading ‘sex slave’.
This was soon followed by another picture with the caption ‘Save this child from an abusive family’.
“The pictures of my child were already on Facebook, but they were private pictures,” she said.
“Somehow he has managed to pick through the system to get these photos.
“It was heartbreaking. As a mum, my first response was hang on, how has he done this? My family said to comment back but I said no.”
She reported the matter to Hampshire police and these posts were taken down.
One photo of a child was posted on Monday evening, and Facebook users have hit out at the offenders with comments telling them they had been reported to Facebook and demanding their ‘disgusting’ posts be removed.
Regular Facebook user Jamie Bennett has campaigned to close the page down.
He has friends in Aldershot and, from his home in Crawley, reported around six offensive posts and contacted the page owner and Facebook but received no response.
“There were quite a few posts which were quite disgusting,” he said. “I felt sick afterwards.”
Facebook’s policy states continued prohibited behaviour, such as harassment or posting material that violates the site’s terms, and ignoring warnings from Facebook could result in the user’s page being deactivated.
Other prohibited behaviour includes using a fake name, impersonating another person or unsolicited contact with others for the purpose of inappropriate conduct.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: “We have received a number of reports about the posting of offensive images on a Facebook site which is used to advertise second hand goods for sale in the Aldershot area.
“Officers are making efforts to contact the page administrator to make her aware of the issue and will also be carrying out enquiries to locate the person responsible for posting the images.”
Anyone with information should contact Hampshire police on 101.