British widow, 65, humiliated by Bebo web page that painted her as a scarlet woman

A woman aged 65 who became the victim of an online smear campaign that she says made her “look like a sexual predator” called yesterday for stricter controls on social networking websites.Helen Kilby, who has never used the internet and never even owned a computer, was shocked after learning from her hairdresser that there was a profile page in her name on the Bebo site claiming that she had enjoyed a string of affairs with younger men.

The case raises fresh issues about regulation of the internet and the lack of overarching legislation to deal specifically with online defamation.Ofcom, the communications watchdog, said that its remit did not extend to the internet. A spokeswoman for Bebo said: “Bebo has a strong, self-regulating community, supported by strict terms of service. Breaches of these terms, whether spotted by Bebo or the member community, are taken very seriously. We may remove materials that we determine fraudulent, defamatory, or that infringe or violate any party’s rights.”The Internet Service Providers’ Association said that online defamation was a particularly tricky issue, not least because it was impossible for internet companies to monitor their sites continuously.

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