Facebook Adds Child Safety Button, But Opt-In Only

Dennis Faas's picture

After a lengthy dispute, Facebook has agreed to include a "panic button" for children to report threatening behavior. However, critics suggest that the voluntary scheme doesn't go far enough for child safety campaigners.

Demands for the button came from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in the United Kingdom. The group has produced a clickable button which can be added to Internet Explorer: clicking the button takes the user straight to a page where they can report unsuitable material or inappropriate behavior

CEOP estimates an average of four youngsters who click the button each day are in immediate danger. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Long Running Child Safety Campaign

CEOP has repeatedly lobbied for social networking sites to add the button to their pages. The group told the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) that in January this year, three-quarters of the reports it received were related to Facebook. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Until now, Facebook has always rejected the idea of carrying the CEOP button, arguing that doing so could detract from its own reporting system.

Pressure mounted on Facebook after police chiefs across the UK backed calls for the button. This came after a high-profile case where a 17-year-old British girl was killed by a man who claimed to be a teenage boy on the site. (Source: google.com)

Compromise Includes Opt-In System

The two sides have now agreed to something of a compromise. Rather than add the button to every page, Facebook will now make the CEOP button an installable app, which will bring together both the Facebook and CEOP reporting systems.

All users aged between 13 and 18 will automatically be invited to install the app. Facebook argues that this system will be more effective as children are more likely to use the button where they've specifically added it, and that making it an opt-in system will make children think more about online dangers.

CEOP plans to push for more child protection measures, telling PCPro "We'll continue working with [Facebook] to see if we can get it to go further." (Source: pcpro.co.uk)

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