Facebook, the international social network, is being sued by an Irish father who discovered his 12-year-old daughter had taken sexually suggestive photos of herself that had then appeared on the website.

The unnamed father  claimed his daughter has been put at risk from paedophiles after the images were published.

Hilary Carmichael, lawyer for the Irish father, told the Herald newspaper this week that Facebook has not put any checks in place to ensure that children are over the permitted age of 13 when they open a Facebook account.

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'I was able to access this girl's Facebook page myself before we issued the writ. She has more than 485 friends -some from the western provinces of Nigeria,' Carmichael claimed.

The suit lodged in Belfast High Court last week alleges Facebook is guilty of negligence and has created a risk of sexual and physical harm to the child.

Thee suit also claims the girl has received sexually explicit text messages from adult men who asked her to post images of herself online.

The 12 year old girl, who is from County Antrim, cannot be identified for legal reasons.

It is believed she posted her photographs herself, also revealing personal details like where she lived, the name of her school and areas she frequents.

It's understood the girl suffers from behavioral problems and is currently being housed in a voluntary care institution.

Carmichael, who is a parent herself, told the Herald that parents should remain vigilant.

'We've had parents who've been in contact with us whose children live in the Republic and operate Facebook pages in the Republic. If they have any concerns, they should shut it down straight away,' the lawyer said.

'A lot of children are innocent and they don't know the dangers. That's why they shouldn't be allowed Facebook pages - they're too young,' added Carmichael, who has launched the new website childrenonfacebook.com to warn parents about the risks.

Facebook, whose international headquarters are located in Dublin, said it is committed to removing inappropriate photos once a complaint has been made.

Facebook is the world's largest social networking site, with over 730 million users around the world.

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