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Editorial:

Internet harbors unsavory hobbies

January 27, 2008

For the second time in as many weeks, we find ourselves issuing warnings about the travails of the Internet.

First, it was an apparent growing trend by young people to videotape their schoolyard brawls and subsequently post the video on YouTube for all to see.

Now we learn that a UCI police dispatcher, no less, is accused of posting photos of young water polo players from Newport Harbor High and other local schools on a gay pornographic website.

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The Internet, we know, is a powerful tool. The speed and immediacy of this medium is forever changing the way all of us do business.

But despite all the good it provides, the Internet has a shady side that shouldn’t be ignored.

Photographs of children and adults alike can be posted on the Internet for exploitative, corrupt and even criminal purposes.

We’ve seen its power firsthand. Take the case of former Newport Harbor pole vaulter Allison Stokke.

The attractive young teen became an instant cyber celebrity as her photos were posted on multiple websites.

We wrote about her frustrations with this last May. Eight months later, our story on Stokke continues to be one of the highest trafficked articles on our website.

We use this example again to offer a warning to parents and teens and children to be careful. There are predators out there ready to snap photos of children and post them where you don’t want them to be.

Because of its power and its freedoms, the Internet does attract some of the more seedy elements.

And it will be nearly impossible to monitor or regulate what is a vast and burgeoning electronic frontier.

That responsibility lies with all of us. So stay on your guard.

Because we were reminded this week that even those who are in a position of trust have the potential to betray us.


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