Panic button for child safety on Facebook


If you are a parent then you will no doubt have fears about your child's use of online networking sites and the strangers they may encounter there. But to put parents' minds at ease, Facebook have finally agreed to install a 'panic button' which will report abuse to the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) and Facebook.

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After many months of resistance, Facebook have agreed to Ceop's panic button. At first, the social networking site believed that their own reporting systems were adequate. But following the rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall by a man she met on Facebook, the pressure to change their attitude became too great.

Ceop is the government's law enforcement agency responsible for hunting down online sex offenders. Their ClickCeop button has already been installed on Bebo and MySpace and now, after a petition signed by 44 police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland supported it, Ceop have their security feature in place on Facebook.

Jim Gamble, Ceop's chief executive, said: "Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented - today however is a good day for child protection.

"By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCeop button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site."

Facebook's head of communications in the UK, Sophy Silver, said: "Both sides are happy as to where we have got.

"We still have the Facebook reporting system and by having a pre-packaged application that users play an active part in, you not only help keep them safe, it makes all of their friends aware too, and acts as a viral awareness campaign.

"Ultimately though, this makes for a safer environment for users and that's the most important part."

There will also be a Facebook and Ceop page aimed at young people that covers topics such as music, celebrities and exams that is hoped will spread the awareness of online safety for children and teenagers.

Do you think the panic button is enough to protect children online or should networking sites be doing more? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.