Even those companies with state-of-the-art defenses spend far more time trying to stop online bullying and attempts to sneak profanity past automatic word filters than they do fending off sex predators.
Still, as the Skout case showed, there are several recent trends that have heightened the concerns of child-safety experts: the rise of smartphones, which are harder for parents to monitor; location-oriented services, which are the darling of Net companies seeking more ad revenue from local businesses; and the rapid proliferation in phone and tablet apps, which don't always make clear what data they are using and distributing.
The alleged predator has pleaded not guilty to multiple charges of soliciting a minor.
Duncan, one of a half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed who praised Facebook for triggering inquiries, said: 'The manner and speed with which they contacted us gave us the ability to respond as soon as possible.'Facebook is among the many companies that are embracing a combination of new technologies and human monitoring to thwart sex predators.
Such efforts generally start with automated screening for inappropriate language and exchanges of personal information, and extend to using the records of convicted pedophiles' online chats to teach the software what to seek out.