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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 June 2008, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Bebo users quizzed over 'safety issues'
Young person sat at PC
Some users could face criminal proceedings
Police have questioned more than 180 young people in Central Scotland about content they posted on social networking sites like Bebo.

The operation in Falkirk, Stirling and Clackmannanshire, targeted users aged 12-18 years-old over material that '"raised child safety issues."

These included concerns over alcohol abuse, weapon possession, racism, and young people potentially exposing themselves to violence.

Information was also collected about criminal activities such as drug dealing.

Several users could face charges and 72 reports have been submitted about vulnerable adults and children under-16.

Bebo screenshot
Police were concerned about content on sites like Bebo
Central Scotland Police interviewed the young people in the presence of an adult.

Assistant Chief Constable Derek Penman said: "In many cases the parent or guardian was simply unaware of their child's use of social networking in this way and reaction ranged from shock to disgust."

Mr Penman added: "In some cases sites were accessed in the presence of police officers and immediate access to the internet or the computer were withdrawn."

Teen opinion

Teenagers that the BBC spoke to had mixed views on the police action.

Jordan, aged 20, from Falkirk said: "If they've got proof that folk have gone out with weapons then they're quite right."

But Jason, aged 19, from Grangemouth, thought a lot of teenagers just liked to appear tough in their online photos.

He said: "They're just like posing - got a knife and that looking solid. It's just what kids are like I suppose."

Networking community Bebo was of particular concern to Scottish police, but the site - which has 4.5m UK members, said users agreed not to post inappropriate or illegal material when they signed up.

A spokesperson said: "Content which comes to our attention that contravenes those terms is immediately suspended and investigated."

However, the site admitted that "unfortunately, anti-social behaviour is an aspect of the society we live in."



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