How to become a Facebook Murder Victim.
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.The inside story of the Facebook murders.
SARAH Richardson took only moments to change her profile on Facebook from "married" to "single". There was nothing out of the ordinary about the move. Each day across the world, millions of people are constantly updating their pages on internet social networking sites.
Comic Jim Carrey used Twitter last week to announce his break-up with former Playboy model Jenny McCarthy. "Jenny and I have just ended our 5yr relationship. I'm grateful 4 the many blessings we've shared and I wish her the very best! S'okay!" Carrey wrote.
However, the end of the Richardsons' relationship had become increasingly hostile. The pair had been estranged for weeks.
She had moved back home with her parents and although she had told friends they still loved one another, she had concluded they "wanted different things".
Their marriage at an end, Mrs Richardson used the site to let friends know she was entering a new stage of her life. Days later, in May 2008, her husband stabbed her to death.
The case was not the first, or last, to set off alarm bells at the potential consequences of opening up on social networking sites.
Previously, South Yorkshire mother-of-two Tracey Grinhaff had been murdered by her jealous husband after using Facebook to tell the world her marriage was over.
"Been together for 16 years but together for 26!!!! God that makes me sound old," she had written on the site.
More recently, a series of UK crimes have been linked to Facebook and sparked a fierce debate over the site.
Accountant Camille Mathurasingh, 27, was slain after her former boyfriend Paul Bristol saw pictures of her on Facebook with another man. Bristol's rage was so great he flew 6500km from Trinidad to England and stabbed his ex 20 times.
Mathurasingh had been trying to let 25-year-old Bristol down gently, so hadn't told him about her new relationship, but her secret unravelled online, a court was told last month. Facebook says there are about 700 million updates to the site each day as 400 million active users share photos, post messages, contact friends and alter their profiles.
But not everyone sifting through the pages is a close friend or even an acquaintance.
One UK study found 85 per cent of women had been contacted by strangers on Facebook.
Matthew Myron, who conducted the study into online privacy, found users were in a bind as it could be "social suicide" to hold back on disclosing personal details.
In Australia, there has been controversy over the vandalism of Facebook tribute sites, including one dedicated to murdered schoolgirl Trinity Bates and another for 12-year-old Elliott Fletcher, who was stabbed to death at his Queensland school this year.
Police moved to have the offensive material about Elliot taken down from the site.
Facebook argued at the time that self-policing, in which users can report abuse, remained the best way of dealing with problems - but critics said the business had a responsibility to protect the public.
In the case of murdered British woman Mathurasingh, a war of words erupted last month about the Facebook link.
"People should deactivate their Facebook accounts in protest until Facebook brings in some controls," one reader wrote to UK newspaper The Daily Mail.
"Are you people nuts? It is not Facebook causing these problems . . . it's the people," responded another.
Another shocking case set off a similar debate. Ashleigh Hall, 17, was lured to her death after serial rapist Peter Chapham posed as a teenage boy on Facebook. "Disgracebook," read the front page headline in The Sun,* Britain's biggest-selling daily newspaper.
(Vest has a certified first day original copy of the Sun Newspaper dated 1968*). Any Offers?.
Ashleigh's distraught mother Andrea said it was "time somebody introduced controls which stop people putting up false information. The people who run Facebook have a responsibility".
In the wake of Chapman's conviction for murder last month, British Home Secretary Alan Johnson urged the company to consider installing a "panic button" for young users to be able to report sexual predators. Executives ruled out the device within hours.
Schoolgirl Aliza Mirza's Facebook account was also in the frame after her stabbing murder in London last month.
She had reportedly met her ex-boyfriend, who has been charged with her murder, on the internet site and kept the relationship secret from her strict Muslim parents.
Teenagers "should realise the dangers of who they are chatting to on the internet", her father said. Ironically, more than 5000 people joined a Facebook site in her memory.
Similarly, the site was used to appeal for information about the murder of Norwegian student Martine Vik Magnussen. In an extraordinary twist, Farouk Abdulhak, the man UK police wish to question in relation to her death, was initially listed as one of her "friends" on her own Facebook page.
The site's members have shown an increasing willingness to call in the authorities. Reports to the UK's Nottinghamshire police of crimes allegedly involving Facebook jumped from 13 between April 2008 and March 2009, to 58 in the following 11 months.
Keeley Houghton, 18, last year became the first person in Britain to be jailed for bullying on a social networking site after posts that included: "Keeley is going to murder the bitch." She was jailed for three months.
Disturbed by bullying and other pressures on young people from social networking sites, the head of the Catholic Church in Britain spoke out last August. Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols said the transient nature of relationships formed on the sites were a key factor in teen suicide.
Dramatically underlining his point, Holly Grogan, 15, tragically jumped to her death from a bridge a month later.
Her family said in a statement: "Holly struggled to cope with the huge pressures placed upon her by the modern complexities of 'friendship groups' and social networking."A family friend added: "Girls used to bully her on Facebook and leave comments on her wall, calling her names."
And the problems are not limited to social networking sites. The internet has transformed human interaction, which has inevitably led to clashes.
In one of the most shocking examples, Petros Williams, 37, filmed his daughter Yolanda, 4, and son Theo, 2, waving goodbye to their mother before he strangled them with a computer cable.
He had flown into a rage after discovering his wife's use of internet dating sites as their marriage disintegrated, a British court was told this month.
Facebook has at least made some effort to address the problems by working to weed out site users who have nefarious motives. On Wednesday, the website launched a "safety centre" - an internal site designed to provide advice about cyber bullying. There is a designated area for teens, with information on how to report offensive or inappropriate material, and parents have been given additional help. It has also told users they can report profiles belonging to those endorsing terrorist activity or known child molesters.
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