Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Dreamboard Scandal

(Pictured, Eric Holder and Janet Napolitano, image courtesy of

The advent and proliferation of the internet facilitates the spread of ideas, from harmless cooking recipes to bootleg mp3s to the most horrific forms of child pornography exposed, to date. When purveyors of the latter are thwarted it seems a simultaneous victory and defeat for mankind: on one hand, child pornographers have been stopped, but on the other hand, the fact that such people and their perversions exist is terrifying. So, it is a bittersweet moment when US government officials can say that they've successfully dismantled and apprehended the members of a child pornography ring like that facilitated by "Dreamboard," an incentive-based forum in which users were encouraged to upload child pornography with a high bounty placed on "super-hardcore" content and content created by the users themselves. (1) In exchange for making their private collections available to the rest of the Dreamboard community, members were rewarded with higher ranks and increased access to the site's content. To view content members were required to post content. In fact, according to CNN, if members did not upload content at least once every 50 days, they risked termination of their membership to the board.(2) This past Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano publicized the case and that 72 members of Dreamboard have been charged with child pornography crimes. (3 Vancouver Sun)

I reviewed BBC, USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, Christian Science Monitor, and The Vancouver Sun's online coverage of the breaking news and, overall, I didn't see much variation in slant, possibly due to an almost universal public opinion on the horrors of child pornography. No political bias could cause any news outlet in it's right mind to portray Dreamboard as anything but an abhorrence and Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) "Operation Delego" team, which lead the investigation, as anything but a savior. The biggest difference I found was that, among the articles I reviewed, The Vancouver Sun and Christian Science Monitor articles were the only ones to include the names of some of the perpetrators. In the case of The Vancouver Sun, the two names listed were Canadian men. I also found that CNN was the only source to claim that all 600 purported users of Dreamboard were men, a claim that is hard for me to believe.

In terms of sources, all of the papers must have obtain much of their information from Wednesday's announcement. Furthermore, all of the articles, save for The New York Times quoted Eric Holder saying: "The members of this criminal network shared a demented dream to create the pre-eminent online community for the promotion of child sexual exploitation but for the children they victimized this was nothing short of a nightmare." CNN, Christian Science Monitor, The Vancouver Sun, and The New York Times all quoted and referred to ICE director John Morton and CNN, USA Today, and The New York Times all quoted and referred to Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer. Interestingly, only CNN and BBC quoted Janet Napolitano. The Vancouver Sun reached out to the RCMP, the national police force of Canada for a statement and USA Today quoted Michelle Collins, a VP of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

I would say the article with the most content was the one from CNN. It gave the most comprehensive coverage and in-depth information. In contrast, the New York Times article was very brief and more like an overview than a full news story. The Vancouver Sun's article was more focused in Canada while the rest of the articles were USA-centric, possibly due to the facts that they are, save for BBC, American publications and that the story broke in the US.

1. Kevin Johnson, "Feds Charge 72 people in international online child sex ring," USA Today, August 3rd, 2011,

2. Terry Frieden, "72 charged in online global child porn ring," CNN, August 3rd, 2011,

3. Amy Minsky, "Two canadians named in massive international child porn bust," The Vancouver Sun, August 3rd, 2011,


  1. Although they've managed to shut down and apprehend some of the people there are still 500 more members somewhere and they could still be creating horrifying images so yeah, I agree, this really is bittersweet. Someone from a town near mine has been indicted in the case he used the screen name "14yrsmax". I'm sure we will be hearing similar things until someday all perpetrators are caught

  2. This is the first time I am hearing about Dreamboard, and I am dumbfounded as well as disgusted. I hope we catch all the members as soon as possible.
    As a side note, I agree with Claudia's comment on CNN. Over the years I've found CNN to be a very informative source.

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  4. I am also disgusted after reading about this. It is even more revolting that the site was called “Dreamboard”. It is interesting how all of the 600 members of pedophiles were all men. It makes me wonder why most pedophiles tend to be male? Even Wikipedia states that “this disorder (pedophilia) is mostly documented in men.” I was glad to learn that the site was officially shut down and that members were arrested and put in prison where they belong. Hopefully there will be an end to this type of exploitation, but unfortunately it seems difficult to regulate completely.

  5. I'm just amazed that this lasted on the internet of all places as long as it did. I was reading more about it and it really is sick. I cant even play devils advocate to it. Thats how sick it is.