Facebook unveils revamped online safety site

PALO ALTO (California): Facebook has launched a revamped internal site designed to help people stay safe and report threats while on the popular online hangout.

Facebook’s “Safety Center,” which features new tools for parents, teachers, teens and law enforcement, is the first major endeavour from the social networking site and its four-month-old global safety advisory board.

The company unveiled its Safety Center a day after meeting with child advocacy officials in Britain, who had been pushing the company to install a so-called “panic button” on the site for some time, following the kidnapping and murder there of a teenager by a man she encountered on Facebook.

Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP) had wanted Facebook to install a prominent link on British users’ profile pages that would take them to CEOP’s own safety site designed to help children deal with online threats.

In a statement yesterday, the centre called Facebook’s move “long overdue,” and “nothing more than we would expect from any responsible social network provider.”

But it added that “critical issues remain unresolved” since Facebook did not actually install a “panic button.”

“We believe that without the deterrence provided by direct visible access to the CEOP button on each and every page children will not be appropriately empowered, parents cannot be reassured and the offender will not be deterred,” the centre said on its website.

Features added

Facebook’s board is composed of Internet safety groups Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, WiredSafety, Childnet International and The Family Online Safety Institute.

Some new features of the safety centre include more content on staying safe, such as dealing with bullying online, an interactive portal and a simpler design.

The presence of sexual predators is a problem for social networking sites and their users. Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, has helped identify, and has disabled accounts of, registered sex offenders.

In 2008, Facebook said it agreed to assist 49 Attorneys-General to protect kids against Internet predators. — AP

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