Social networking website Facebook on Monday introduced a new internet safety application which will allows British teenagers to report suspicious or inappropriate online behaviour.
The “panic button”, which was launched after months of negotiations between the website and Britain’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), is aimed at young children who can report abuse to child protection authorities.
In a statement, 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.”
One installed, the application appears on their homepage to say that “they are in control online”.
Ceop, the government law enforcement agency tasked with tracking down online sex offenders, called for a panic button to be installed on social networking sites last November.
Bebo became the first network to add the button with MySpace following suit, but Facebook resisted the change, saying its own reporting systems were sufficient. Pressure mounted on Facebook following the rape and murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall by a 33-year-old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenage boy, whom she met on Facebook.
Forty-four police chiefs in England, Wales and Scotland, signed a letter backing Ceop’s call for a panic button on every Facebook page.
Facebook’s head of communications in the U.K., Sophy Silver, told BBC News that the new application would integrate reporting into both Facebook and Ceop’s systems. “Both sides are happy as to where we have got,” she said.
“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,” she added.