After coming under fire by parents groups for its lax safety protocols to protect minors from online predators, Facebook has agreed to increase its efforts to keep its young users safe from cyber bullies, porn, pedophiles and other online hazards.
Facebook has agreed to a child protection pact similar to the one sealed with leading social-networking website MySpace in January, according to Connecticut attorney general Richard Blumenthal. The agreement was made with 49 state attorneys general and the district of Columbia.
This agreement marks another milestone step for social networking safety -- protecting kids from online predators and pornography, Blumenthal said in a written release.
We are raising the safety bar, first for MySpace and now Facebook, and soon for other sites as we fight for an industry gold standard.
The world's second largest online networking site will build in more than 40 measures. Facebook will add more automatic warning messages when underage members are in danger of giving out personal information to an unknown adult, making it harder for adults to make online friends with users under the age of 18.
Facebook said it will improve its technology to minimize the amount of inappropriate online behavior by its users. The website will also sever links to pornographic websites and to boot users linked to incest, pedophilia or cyberbullying, according to Blumenthal.
Following the success of online social-networking sites - with MySpace's 200 million users and Facebook's 70 million- there has been a growing concern that these sites are attracting cyber predators who seek out victims to pry on and taunt.
Facebook's chief privacy officer Chris Kelly said the site already had many safety features in place to protect users and that this was another step to enhance privacy.
We have invested a great deal of effort to build a safer, more trusted environment, Mr Kelly said.
Facebook said any complaints are to be emailed email@example.com. The social networking site must report to the complainant what it has done to address the issue within 72 hours of the initial email.
Microsoft owns 1.6 percent of Facebook, following a $240 million investment last year, which valued the social networking site at $15 billion. MySpace is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.