The news came as a bigger shock to Los Angeles rock band Fetisch when their interactive fansite, FindaFreek.com, got dragged into the controversy when MTV reported that Salvador had interacted with the girl on the site, which MTV classified as an "online singles community".
Fetisch feel that classification couldn't be farther from the truth and told antiMusic that it was "a drastically uninformed description." The band informed us that they are "eager to set that record straight as well as present FAF as the sanctuary that it is to so many of its members."
The band elaborated and explained what
FindaFreek is really all about and its origins. "Fetisch created
FindaFreek as a cutting-edge interactive fansite for the band. It grew
up to become a community, representing an outspoken culture. While Fetisch
is often the face of FindaFreek, its members are its voice."
"...and along this merry trail, it drew much attention for its open discussions of politics, sex, spirituality, and other topics boldly wading in the charged waters of 'free speech'", Fetisch told antiMusic. "...and recently it seems gaining additional attention for a very dreadful alleged incident involving Tripp."
A quick browse of FindaFreek.com seems to confirm the band's description of the site as an online community "representing an outspoken culture" where various issues are addressed. However, the misconception may have come from the part of the community that offers members their own profile pages similar to Myspace and Friendster which includes areas where the users can provide information about themselves and descriptions of people they are looking to interact with. While any online website that allows for interaction between users and provides user profile pages can be misused in the way that Salvador allegedly utilized FindaFreek, that in itself does not necessarily make such sites "online singles communities". It is an unfortunate outgrowth of online interactivity that any site that allows members to communicate with one another can be misused in such a way, whether it is FindaFreek, Myspace, AOL chat rooms, MTV's community message boards or even the Fan Speak boards of antiMusic and other sites where people of similar interest congregate. The focus of FindaFreek appears to be a lot broader than a site designed simply for people to hook up (thus an online singles community). That would be like saying a bank is a place designed for criminals to rob.
While Fetisch should be receiving continued attention for their clever and effective utilization of the Internet to bring fans together into a community that goes far beyond a simple band promotion site, they have unfortunately been caught in the crossfire of the alleged misdeeds of an individual that used their site. However, Fetisch are not ignoring the negative light that has been cast on FindaFreek. On the opening page of the site they have issued a statement addressing the controversy. "We at FindaFreek.com and the members of Fetisch would like to take this opportunity to express our sympathy and support to all individuals involved with this. We had no knowledge of the incident, and we certainly do not condone the alleged actions.
"We are continuously reviewing our methods and policies to insure the safety of our community members, while still retaining the freedoms that are unique to, and an integral part of the FindaFreek.com experience."
In the end hopefully the truth will prevail for all involved. If Salvador did commit the acts he has been accused us, justice will hopefully be served after he receives fair trials for the two separate cases, and that may provide at least some solace and closure for the alleged victims and their families. As for Fetisch and FindaFreek, maybe people will take the time to explore their online community before jumping to conclusions and they will be able to find new ways to insure that their website is not abused in a similar fashion in the future.
There is a larger issue of finding a balance between allowing people to interact with one another online and preventing sexual predators from misusing online communities. That is a daunting task that may never be fully realized because as soon as effective controls are put in place on one site, the predators will find somewhere else to seek out victims. Would the ultimate solution be to make all interactive websites open to only adults? Or would that be going too far? Should parents keep a closer eye on their minor children's online activity or allow them to surf freely? There is no easy solution to this complicated problem and unfortunately the same freedom of communication and distribution of information that the Internet provides can easily be misused if placed in the wrong hands.
Some food for thought. What kind of controls, if any, do think should be employed on the web to make it safer for minors? Or does freedom trump all other concerns? Share your thoughts in the fan speak below.
Note: This was originally a news article but the compulsion for interjecting some opinion and addressing larger issues transformed it into a semi-editorial.