Kids' game infiltrated by paedophiles
Thu, 14 Jun 2012 6:11p.m.
By Jenny Suo
A popular online game aimed at young people has shut its chat capabilities after claims the site has been infiltrated by paedophiles.
‘Habbo Hotel’ is an online community used by more than 250 million people worldwide including New Zealanders.
Its chief executive has muted all conversations while he investigates reports of pornographic chat.
Now its users have found another way of making their voices heard with a protest in pixels.
Hundreds of avatars or ‘habbos’ holding torches are angry their online community has been gagged.
But it's a necessary precaution after a producer from Britain’s Channel Four posed as an 11-year-old and revealed just how easy it is for a young person to be sexually violated on Habbo Hotel.
“People were having sex with me without my permission or doing things to me without my permission,” producer Rachel Seifert says.
“In public, men would come up to me and say that they were doing all these things to me and my body without my asking.”
Ms Seifert was also asked to make direct contact
“‘Do you have a webcam, are you on MSN, are you on Skype?' I was told to get fully naked, would I sent photos over email.”
She played the game 50 times with the same experience, perhaps meeting men like Matthew Leonard.
He pretended to be a teenager on Habbo Hotel and befriended a young girl, but he was in fact in his 20s.
“He asked her to show herself naked via webcam, she did, he captured images which he later used to make her commit further sexual acts,” Essex police detective constable Karen Berry says.
Following Leonard's arrest, police traced more than 80 victims. The youngest was only 10 years old.
The site is made by Finnish company Sulake. Its chief executive Paul la Fontaine says he's been working hard to improve user safety.
But while he's asked his users to stay loyal, some big names have already checked out.
Two of Sulake's biggest investors have withdrawn and chain stores Game, WH Smith and Tesco have stopped selling Habbo gift cards used to buy furniture on the site.
The website does have moderators, but one safety expert says the system is failing.
“It was a giant room of people, kids, I don’t know how old, having cyber sex,” chief community and safety officer Rebecca Newton says.
“Nobody's minding the children. Nobody's minding the shop.”
And now it seems this virtual world has a very real problem.
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15/06/2012 9:59:25 a.m.
I've been messaging Paul Lafontaine about illegal casinos, operation of child sex rooms and other illegal activity since September 2011. Prior to that I was emailing Ex-CEO Timo Soininen. in 2006 Timo Soininen responded to one of my emails saying he would investigate the situation of child cyber sex. He ended up neglecting the children by doing nothing. He then ignored thousands of emails from hundreds of people up until 2011 when CEO - Paul Lafontaine took over this child brothel. After 6 years of witnessing some of the most disgusting behaviour I decided to start a twitter account called http://www.twitter.com/habboboycott several months before this issue hit the news.I was so disgusted by what I seen i was ready to dedicate my entire life to raise awareness about Sickos like Paul Lafontaine who many believe organize teams of spammers to gather teens within the network he controls to develope child pornography. Paul Lafontaine has made it his personal battle to ban anyone bringing attention to the sick problems within his community. Imagine sending him am email and within hours being banned for reporting this issue that could have been clearly prevented if anyone within this heartly organization cared. The fact is the people who own Habbo have known about the issue and have done nothing about it. They have actually contributed to the issue by releasing furniture that resemble sex toys, included sex rooms under the staff pick list and banned players who questioned why rooms like "Sex club" is the highest rated room on habbo. All Habbo staff and management should have been arrested locked away for life for knowningly neglecting a serious issue like this. Justice will prevail and Paul Lafontain, Timo Soininen and the rest of the owners will be arrested without a doubt!
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