Habbo boss responds to Channel 4 ‘paeodophile’ claims

The company behind kids social network Habbo is doing all it can to keep children safe, the firm’s CEO says.

Habbo’s Paul LaFontaine has released a statement emphasizing the moderation and other safety measures the site has in place. His statement pre-empts a report that will run on Channel 4 tonight, which will describe Habbo as a "paedophile haven".

LaFontaine stressed that Habbo employes more than 200 moderators, who manually track 70m messages between the network’s 265m users.

"Speaking as a CEO, it’s an incredibly rewarding job to have responsibility for an online community like Habbo," said LaFontaine.

"Our site provides a forum for millions of young people from across the world to share views, interests and ideas through the characters they create. The freedom to explore the site and freely interact with other users is one of the reasons why we are one of the most popular online destinations for teenagers; there have been more than 265 million Habbo users in total and up to a further three million users join each month.

"To keep users safe, we filter content and block inappropriate users. We also employ more than 225 moderators, tracking some 70 million lines of conversation globally every day on a 24/7 basis.

"We work with child safety organisations and local police forces to address inappropriate behaviour. Habbo’s leading safety systems were recognised as making the service one of the safest social networks in a 2011 European Commission report. Last year we were also awarded the commendation of ‘Safer by Design’ from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

"Alongside the time and resource we invest to ensure that Habbo is one of the safest online communities, we also encourage our users to take responsibility for reporting any abuses on the site. This is why we provide education and rapid-response support to users who may experience uncomfortable conversations.

"Through a combination of active moderation and user empowerment, we remain confident that we can continue to deliver the opportunity for our users to engage and communicate in a free but responsible manner."

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