July 27, 2010

Facebook Unveils New Safety Page

Social networking giant Facebook, long the target of criticism over their user protection and safety policies, have unveiled a new page devoted solely to the safety issue.

The new Facebook Safety Page was announced by Joe Sullivan, the company's senior counsel, in a blog post on Monday. By the end of the day, the page had over 2 million "fans", according to the AFP.

"Today, we launched a new Facebook Safety Page, where we'll regularly post dynamic content to complement the resources in the expanded Safety Center that we introduced in April," Sullivan wrote in the blog entry, adding that the new site was modeled after the company's own data security page.

"The Safety Page will highlight new initiatives to keep people on Facebook safe, valuable educational materials from Internet safety experts including the members of our Safety Advisory Board, and relevant news coverage," he added. "Online safety is a shared responsibility. We'll continue to think of innovative ways to promote safety on our service and elsewhere on the Web. By liking the Safety Page, you also can make safety a regular part of your Facebook experience."

According to the AFP, "The launch of the Safety Page came in the wake of demands by privacy activists that Facebook give users of the booming social network more control over the use of their personal data"¦ A coalition of privacy groups, in an open letter to Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg last month, welcomed the social network's recent overhaul of its privacy controls but said additional steps were needed."

As of early Tuesday morning, the Facebook Safety page currently contained a video on social networking safety from the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), a BBC story covering computer literacy in India, information about suicide prevention on Facebook, and more.

Earlier this month, the company also announced that they would be adding a new "panic button" feature users between the ages of 13 and 18 to notify Facebook officials if they observed behavior that was suspicious or inappropriate. The function, officially known as the ClickCEOP button, was a partnership with the U.K.'s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

According to BBC News technology reporter Daniel Emery, "The launch follows months of negotiation between CEOP and Facebook, which initially resisted the idea"¦ 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."

The application was also added to Microsoft Outlook earlier this month.

"Starting today, you can plug Facebook and Windows Live right into Microsoft Outlook through the Outlook Social Connector," group product manager Paco Contreras Herrera wrote in a Microsoft Office Blog entry dated July 13. "You can view your social network as you look through your email to stay connected with your friends, family, and colleagues."

Facebook surpassed the 500 million user mark last week, meaning that one out of every 14 people on Earth have registered for and actively use the social networking website, according to Monday's AFP report. Facebook was launched in February 2004, and has been visited by more than 130 million unique individuals over the past two years, according to ComScore statistics.


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