And because Facebook does not properly verify the age of youngsters who join up, it means that pre-teens with pages on the site could be at risk of being groomed.
Webcam sex tourism is pervasive in the Philippines with rise in good English speakers, increased internet connection and widespread international cash transfer systems combined with growing poverty and easy access to vulnerable kids.
The crimes came to light last summer after detectives investigating a child grooming case in Scotland learnt that Whitfield had been involved in obscene chats with an 11-year-old boy and tipped off colleagues in Cheshire.
Searches of computer equipment uncovered images of the other young victims, who included a 10-year-old girl he had groomed using Skype, a young teenage girl he goaded into obscene acts while she enjoyed a sleepover with a friend, and an unidentified boy who Whitfield had saved a screenshot of as he performed an indecent act.
It is part of their life and growing up, so all the sexual experimentation our generation did offline, they feel natural doing online.’ The issue of Facebook grooming was highlighted in a ‘threat assessment’ carried out by CEOP over the summer, which warned offenders were coercing children into performing ‘harmful and degrading sexual activity online’.‘Without sufficient recognition and intervention from law enforcement, there is every likelihood that this trend will grow.
With the forecasted growth of internet use across the world, particularly in developing nations, it is increasingly likely that UK children will also be targeted by offenders based overseas.’ ‘This then forms the basis for further threats and incitement to perform increasingly serious sexual acts.’ Jon Brown, of the NSPCC, said: ‘Sex offenders often prowl the internet looking for victims they can lure into potentially dangerous situations.