Teens freely able to access porn on audio books website

TEENAGERS are freely able to access pornography on the world's largest audio book website, with one mum so horrified when she found it she thought the site was hacked.

Ahead of a long car ride, Croydon mum Anthea Wilder wanted to buy an audio book to listen to with her daughters and searched "teen fiction" on Audible, which is owned by Amazon.

But instead of books appropriate for her 14 and 16-year-olds, Ms Wilder was shocked to find the majority of books under the search term were pornographic, with many making suggestions of paedophilia.

"I thought it was a joke at first," Ms Wilder said.

"I thought the site might have been hacked, but it wasn't."

Audible's website says it has "the world's largest selection of audio books".

People must sign up and put in a credit-card number to buy audio books from the Amazon-owned site, but anyone can listen to samples, some up to five minutes long.

"I rang Audible and a person looked it up themselves because they couldn't quite believe it either," she said.

"But then the woman said 'I guess some people like that stuff'."

Ms Wilder asked Audible to change its search options because teenagers could see and access the content, but said Audible told her it was not its problem.

She said she also had no luck when she reported the issue to the Federal Police, the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Cyber Safety Hotline, or the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

"I was so disgusted and annoyed it wasn't easy to report," she said.

She has since cancelled her Audible subscription.

Office of the eSafety Commissioner senior communications adviser Dominique Tomarchio said the watchdog helped Australians have safe and positive experiences online through advice, education and resources.

Ms Tomarchio said the Office took complaints on cyber-bullying and illegal online content, but said the issue was "out of scope for the eSafety Office".

Leading cyber safety expert Susan McLean said the issue showed parents the internet was fairly unregulated.

"I'm not saying it's right, but it's reality," Ms McLean said.

"Unless pics are of a child, it's not illegal."

She said while filters picked up pornographic websites, they didn't capture audio books.

"Stuff like this is on mainstream sites," she said.

"I have eight-year-old boys viewing porn on the internet. It's so accessible."

"Parents need to be aware of what their kids are doing online."

Audible spokeswoman Melissa Gompes apologised for any offence caused to customers who encountered "unwelcome" over-18 content in search results.

"Customers who use specific search terms on Audible.com.au may in certain instances come across adult content in their search results," Ms Gompes said.

She said while the company worked to improve search results it encouraged concerned members to use Audible's safe search feature, which hides adult content.

Leader has contacted Amazon and the Australian Communications and Media Authority for comment.

News Corp Australia


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