The security of Facebook has been put under scrutiny once again this week.

A case of an eighteen-year-old boy posing as a girl on the site in order to blackmail victims into performing sexual acts, has prompted security firm Sophos to offer advice on online safety.

The case in question is about Anthony Stancl of Wisconsin, who is being charged with numerous accounts of child enticement, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, possession of child pornography and, for good measure, making a bomb threat.

Stancl allegedly created a fake female profile to entice 31 of his classmates to send him naked photos, which lead to him threatening the pupils and forcing them to perform sexual acts. If Stancl is found guilty, then he could face up to 293 years in prison.

The incident comes in the same week that Facebook issued a statement to TechRadar that it isn't a haven for sex offenders, saying: "We are glad to be able to report that we have not yet had to handle a case of a registered sex offender meeting a minor through Facebook. We are working hard to make sure it never happens."

Use the internet sensibly

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said about the incident: "There's no doubt that there are plenty of "female" profiles online that are in reality men (and probably vice versa) - using photographs that they have stolen or downloaded off the internet.

"Even if you recognise the name and picture of someone you know on Facebook, you can't necessarily be certain that it is the person you think it is.

"Young people need to learn how to use the internet sensibly and be made aware of the risks that are present when they login. The alternative is that we are bringing up a generation of youngsters who are not just comfortable using the internet, they're too comfortable."

For more information about using social networking sited like Facebook safely, visit: www.sophos.com/facebook.