Twitter = Pedophile-Paradise?

I’m sorry, but some of the “old media” over here on this European continent just don’t get it when it comes to Twitter. A current example is the Flemish newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen with its brief piece “Twitter is a pedo-paradise”.

At least those quotation-marks are in the original title, as if to show that the Gazet editors aren’t quite ready to fully endorse that opinion. Still, the first paragraph reads in its entirety: “The social-networking site Twitter is a cost-free and easy hunting-ground for child-molesters, experts say.” Their proof? One “on-line conversation” between a pedophile and his 13-year-old prey as published in the English newspaper The Sun – one that is thoroughly banal (13-year-old: “Are you trying to seduce me?” Pedophile: “No, not at all. I just want to more more about you.”) besides coming from a source of little more use to the general public than as an exhibitor of “Page Three girls” and none at all when it comes to factual presentation. Oh, and let me add: besides constituting but one instance (an “anecdote,” in scientific parlance) of alleged evil behavior, and one whose use completely misinterprets the Twitter’s technological essence at that. Yes, it is possible to use Twitter to send an “@reply” to communicate directly with someone – but then everyone who subscribes to you can read the message, and anyone can find it afterwards through search. And it is also possible to send a “direct message” to someone, that no one else can read – although that’s only when the two parties subscribe to each others feed, and tell me how that is possible in a case of pedophilia other than after the child-molester has already gained his victim’s confidence through entirely other means!

But what Twitter is really all about is not one-to-one communication, but rather broadcasting – it’s basically a broadcaster of 140-character-or-less messages. In this light, it’s ridiculous to paint it as some potential tool for pedophiles. This article is simply brain-dead, looking to attract attention through the cynical spreading of rent-an-expert pedophilia alarm. And that’s sad, among other reasons because presumably plenty of people (Belgians who are Flemish, mostly) read the Gazet van Antwerpen and believe what they find there, and so will come away with a mistaken negative impression of what has proven to be quite an innovative and useful communications tool.

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