This story was first published on November 1st 2010
Long circulated social media message warns that a 48-year-old pedophile named Harry Graham is posing as a 14-year-old on Facebook in order to make contact with children.
This is yet another version of a series of totally unsubstantiated and damaging rumours that claim that pedophiles are attempting to contact children via Facebook. While this version names a person called Harry Graham, other versions have used the names of other men. There is no credible evidence to back up the claims in these messages. Spreading scurrilous and unfounded rumours such as this can unfairly damage the reputation of innocent people. This bogus warning is without merit and should not be reposted.
There is someone called harry graham friend requesting kids on facebook at the moment, posing as a 14yr old when actually he is a 48yr old peadophile. He is known 2 the police. Please be aware and tell everyone u know. We must keep our kids safe – please copy and paste
According to this “warning” message, which has circulated via Facebook and other social media sites since at least 2010, a 48-year-old pedophile by the name of Harry Graham is posing as a 14-year-old in order to befriend children. The message claims that the man is “known to police” and asks that users pass on the message to help protect children.
However, the supposed “warning” is nothing more than an unsubstantiated rumour. There are no credible reports of any kind that back up the claims in the message. Other than the name “Harry Graham”, this “warning” does not provide any information whatsoever that might identify this supposed sexual deviant or his current whereabouts.
A great many people around the world share the name “Harry Graham”. Thus, even if one person somewhere with that name did do something wrong, spreading such a message is likely to achieve nothing other than unfairly damage the reputation of completely innocent individuals that are unfortunate enough to share the same name.
This “Harry Graham” rumour is just yet another variant in a series unfounded pedophile warnings that have circulated via Facebook for many years. In September 2010, a similar warning began circulating that accused a man named Thierry Mairot of attempting to contact children on Facebook to talk about sex. A later clone of the “warning” changed the name of the accused to one Thomas Cowling.
The Internet makes it very easy for faceless cowards to make unfounded accusations against others while remaining anonymous. They may never be required to justify their accusations in any way. If malicious individuals want to discredit, embarrass or annoy someone, or indeed destroy his or her reputation, all they may have to do is create a damaging rumour and post it on Facebook or other social networks.
And even a hint of paedophilia or perversion is often enough to raise great ire and concern among parents and others who care for children. Thus, such accusations, even if totally unfounded can be a very powerful weapon when wielded by unscrupulous individuals or groups intent on character assassination.
Once started, rumours like this can take on a life of their own. Even if the original accuser belatedly learns that his or accusations were wrong, it may well be impossible to stop the further spread of the rumour as it continues its destructive journey.
Thus, it is totally irresponsible to share baseless accusations such as this. In fact, the act of reposting such potentially destructive messages without compelling and verifiable evidence to substantiate their claims is immoral and unethical.
Even if someone else started such a rumour, Facebook users need to take responsibility for what they post. Virtually any social network user is potentially vulnerable to attack from gutless cowards such as those that create these rumours.
Of course, it is vitally important to keep our children safe online. However, passing on baseless rumours will do zilch and zero to help protect children. Destroying someone’s reputation by passing on nonsense warnings is certainly not going to help keep our kids safe online.
A much more productive method is simply to closely – and continually – monitor the online activities of our vulnerable children. Better still, don’t let young children use adult social networks like Facebook at all.