Facebook Sets Safety Rules
"The agreement marks another milestone step for social-networking safety, protecting kids from online predators and pornography," said Blumenthal.
The world's second largest social networking website Facebook has agreed to new safeguards to protect young website users against cyber-bullies, The Mercury News reported on Friday, May 9.
"The agreement marks another milestone step for social-networking safety, protecting kids from online predators and pornography," said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal.
The new safeguards include age and identification tools and automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult.
They also include banning convicted sex offenders from the site, limiting older users' ability to search online for subscribers under 18.
Under the pact, Facebook would remove groups whose comments or images suggest they involve incest, pedophilia, bullying or other inappropriate content.
It would also review users' profiles when they ask to change their age to ensure the update is legitimate and not intended to let adults masquerade as children.
The social-networking giant will also ensure companies offering services on its site comply with its safety and privacy guidelines.
"Building a safe and trusted online experience has been part of Facebook from its outset," said Chris Kelly, Facebook's chief privacy officer.
The new safeguards are part of an agreement between the Facebook and attorneys general from 49 American states.
It follows a similar deal in January with the world's largest social networking website MySpace, which has more than 110 million users.
Facebook has grown to more than 70 million users worldwide to be the second social networking website after MySpace.
Founded in 2004, Facebook's membership was initially restricted to students of the Harvard University.
It was later expanded to other universities in the United States and later to any student with a university email address from all over the world.
The Facebook's new safeguards have drawn appraisal from online child safety groups.
"These policies are crucially important," said John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
"Facebook has been on a long trajectory from a comfortable university networking environment to a big business."
The Executive of the Family Online Safety Institute urged more efforts to ensure better children safety.
"It's going to have to be a combination of industry efforts, putting the tools out there, and parents setting the rules in the households," said the institute's chief Stephen Balkam.
According to the US Department of Justice, indictments of child pornography offenses rose from 1,657 in 2006 to 2,118 in 2007.
A probe carried out by MySpace has found that 2,644 online "profiles" linked to 1,812 registered sex offenders.
A similar Facebook probe in Illinois state revealed that 123 sex offenders had created profiles on its website.
Hydee Hawkins, coordinator of Project Safe Childhood for the US attorney's office in Lexington, said parents need to keep the sites used by children under watch.
"The bottom line is to be nosy with kids," Hawkins told the Kentucky Lexigton Herald.
"You can save a life if you are nosy."
Agencies Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2008, 10:01