Internet Security News & Views

Habbo Hotel – Chat forum closed due to sexually explicit language

Habbo Hotel Chat forum closed due to pornographic content.

Findings earlier this week revealed that the popular Habbo site has unwittingly attracted a number of users engaging in explicit chats with youngsters. As a consequence of these findings, Habbo Hotel has now closed its chat forum. The Habbo site is aimed at older children and teenagers and seeks to provide a safe and fun online environment for them to hang out in.

The main investor in Habbo Hotel, has pulled out after investigations discovered the extent of sexually explicit messages and language used, The Telegraph reports.

Channel4 also reports that retailers are also pulling away from the brand, with stores Tesco, WH Smith and GAME ceasing to sell Habbo gift cards.

Habbo Hotel has more than 10 million visitors a month, attracted by a bright friendly looking environment, pastel colours, teddy bears, etc. It is hard to say how many of the visitors are teenagers or children in the target age group, as anybody can register a profile, as one reporter from Channel4 discovered when they went

Habbo Hotel has more than 10 million visitors a month, attracted by friendly looking environment, pastel colours, teddy bears, etc.  It is hard to say how many of the visitors are teenagers in the target age group, as anybody can register a profile.  A reporter from Channel4 went undercover:

Channel4 Undercover in Habbo Hotel

The problem is unfortunately not new and Habbo Hotel is not unique in this matter. Any forum designed especially for children and teenagers may attract those who want to interact with children in an explicit manner. These forums are like honeypots to certain individuals.

It is a digital world, and as long as forums like these are available, parents are under pressure to allow their children the same privileges as their peers and go online to chat in a seemingly safe environment. Children and teenagers spend more and more time interacting through computers and mobile devices and as parents we have to set the boundaries, monitor usage and ensure our children are safe. It is vital to educate children on online safety and the dangers of predators on the net. As with everything else, parents have to be involved and look out for their childrens interests, especially online where you cannot take anything at face value.

 

Parents and regulators must demand that the industry raise their standards and levels of security.

Forums should be monitored by a special task force on an ongoing basis, and explicit language should be flagged up to moderators immediately for them to take appropriate action

John Carr on Habbo Hotel

It is not feasible to expect youngsters to be wholly responsible for their own online safety due to young age and immaturity.

Just as you expect a youth club to be staffed, you should expect high levels of security and moderation in online forums, games and chat for children and teenagers.

What next?

Keeping Children and Teenagers safe online is paramount! At least it should be for anybody providing services aimed at a young people.

Habbo Hotel is doing the right thing in muting the chat forum whilst investigating how this has happened. They are currently working hard on tightening their security, according to their  blog. But will it be enough?

Meanwhile some questions to think about:

Should such forums for teenagers and children be banned?

How can you ensure that only Teenagers access such sites?

Should parents block chat sites and forums from their home computers using web-filtering solutions?

How can we ensure children and teenagers are safe from predators, pornography and sexually explicit language?

What do we expect the industry to do?

Comments welcome!

-The Omniquad Team

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1 Response »

  1. Hi there, it is just https://www.facebook.com/Omniquad. Thanks for asking, just noticed we don’t have a link to it! I like your interval training page.

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