13
Apr
10

Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

NEWS
Facebook rejects suggested ‘Panic Button’ for pages

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Facebook has announced an overhaul of its online safety measures that include the redesign of its abuse reporting system. But British users are concerned the new features still don’t go far enough.

Facebook’s “Safety Center” features new tools for parents, teachers, teens and law enforcement; it’s the first major endeavor from the social networking site and its four-month-old global safety advisory board.

Some new features of the safety center include four times more content on staying safe, such as dealing with bullying online, an interactive portal and a simpler design. But the company has not announced the installation of a panic button on every page as British officials had urged it to do.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said the social networking giant did not agree to his demands outright at a meeting in Washington but he felt they were moving in the right direction.

Speaking after a four-hour meeting yesterday, Mr. Gamble said Facebook was close to “doing the right thing” but urged the website to turn “words into action”.

“They are one small step away from doing the right thing,” he said.

“I am more optimistic than when I came. They are not saying no, that is very clear.

“There is no doubt they are looking to improve their position around child safety and we recognise that. What I am looking for is turning words into action.”

The showdown came after controversy in Britain over Facebook’s refusal to include a “panic button” on its pages after the conviction of a serial rapist who used the site to lure and murder a teenage girl.

Peter Chapman posed as a young boy to lure 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall to her death in north-east England.

Calls have since grown for the inclusion of the buttons – which allow youngsters who feel threatened online to quickly contact a number of sources of help, such as CEOP or anti-bullying helplines.

Politicians, police and anti-bullying groups have voiced outrage that the online giant will not bow to demands to include the system.

“In our view they are experts at creating a fantastic online environment but they are not experts in law enforcement, the power of deterrents and the reassurance it brings for mums and dads,” Mr. Gamble said.

The other problem with a “panic button” is that it could lead to a false sense of security. If someone truly is aware of an online emergency, they are better off calling 911 or its equivalent in whatever country they are in.

Related: U.K. pressures Facebook to install ‘panic button’ to protect kids GO
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