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Anti-Social Networking: Reflecting on the case of Orkut in Brazil

Date & Time:
15:30 - 17:00,
Thursday 7 February, 2008


This seminar brings together the President of SaferNet Brazil with leading figures in the UK’s online child protection community to examine the growth of child sexual abuse online in relation to social-networking websites, to evaluate the effectiveness of measures to combat the problem, and to discuss the current state of play in public policy targeting online child abuse.

Background: social networking and children

The growth of social-networking websites has provided many new opportunities for communication and friendship. Unfortunately, these services have also expanded the distribution of child abuse images and created new opportunities for harassment and grooming, potentially putting children at risk in all parts of the world.

Google’s Orkut social networking has become a major focus of Brazilian social life. Over 53% of worldwide users of Orkut are Brazilian, with two-thirds of all connected Brazilians using the service, many of them children. Orkut is also opening up the market to new Google products in Latin America’s largest country, as well as in India.

Child sexual abuse online and Orkut

The site has rapidly become a reflection of both good and bad in Brazilian society. According to SaferNet Brazil (, a human rights NGO that runs the Brazilian National Reporting Centre of Cybercrime, the number of new reports involving Orkut profiles and communities with child sexual abuse content has grown dramatically since June 2005.

SaferNet and the Federal Public Prosecutors Office have alleged that Google has failed to cooperate with the investigation and prosecution of Brazilian child predators who posted images of child abuse on Orkut whilst Google Brazil faces a USD 70 million civil class action launched by the Federal Prosecutors Office. The Head of Google’s Brazilian operation is also facing criminal contempt charges for refusing to hand over user data relating to the crimes as requested by the Brazilian Federal Police.

SaferNet Brazil has undertaken some highly effective initiatives to combat the proliferation of child abuse images on Orkut, prompting Google to change their policies and strategies in Brazil. However, other countries now face similar challenges in the light of the growth of child sexual abuse online in social-networking and Web 2.0 services.

John Carr

Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety

Peter Robbins

Chief Executive, Internet Watch Foundation (IWF)

Thiago Tavares

President, SaferNet Brazil

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