Government’s deceptive ‘online danger’ ads outed for the fear mongering they really are

By now you’ve probably seen the ads to go along with the government’s big spend on protecting the kiddies online. There are some scary stats thrown about in these ads to really get you worried… if you have no idea what you’re being told.

There is an excellent analysis in the Sydney Morning Herald of the government’s campaign, beautifully entitled “Ministry’s web of deception needs a virtual reality check”. Gold. Here are a few of the blatant manipulations identified in the story:SPIN: The AFP’s Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team has charged 55 people, and apparently as a ‘particular focus’ on grooming (those sick fuckers who approach kids).
FACT: The number of people charged with ‘grooming’ offences in Australia are somewhere between ‘one’ and ‘some’ – most of those charges are child porn.

SPIN: A ‘startling’ 37% of kids who chat online are contacted by someone they don’t know, and 18% had been asked by a stranger to meet them.
FACT: The government definition of ‘stranger’ here includes friends of friends!

SPIN: More than half of all children using the Internet have been approached by strangers.
FACT: This definition includes any ‘unsolicited approach’, including spam! FFS!!

Kudos to Michael Duffy on adding some clarity to what many netizens would see was a beat up. Now go forth and share these juicy points of spin/fact with your families so they can better understand how the government is trying to manufacture fear of all things online likes we’re jumped back to 1997.

Let’s be clear. There is stuff for kids to worry about online. But let’s keep things in perspective and judge the risks appropriately. Not generate a scare campaign that offers nil but political benefit.