Facebook Beefs Up Safety Center, But No Panic Button

Facebook said today that it’s upgraded its Safety Center — which contains advice for parents, young people, teachers, law enforcement and other groups about how to use Facebook responsibly and safely — based on suggestions from its Safety Advisory Board. But the site stopped short of adding a so-called “panic button” to its pages that would take users younger users directly to a page of safety information, which is something critics and advocacy groups in Britain have repeatedly requested, most recently in a meeting between Facebook representatives and the head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

British groups want a button that would take younger users to a page with information about how to respond to various behavior such as cyberbullying and sexually suggestive material or otherwise inappropriate content. Chief constables from England and Wales, including the head of Scotland Yard, have signed a letter supporting the panic button. The campaign gained steam following the death of a 17-year-old female student last October: Ashleigh Hall was raped and murdered by a man she met on Facebook, who is now in prison. It’s not clear, however, what use a panic button would have been in the girl’s case, or how it would have stopped her from meeting the man.

The Facebook blog post describes how the site has changed its Safety Center:

It offers new safety resources for parents, educators, teens and members of the law enforcement community. We’ve quadrupled the safety content available, and we’ve created cleaner, more navigable interfaces to help you find answers to safety questions fast. This portal — which we’ve been testing during the past few weeks — draws multimedia content from Facebook and from independent organizations specializing in safety and security online.

The site’s Safety Advisory Board consists of representatives from several organizations in the U.S. and Europe, who describe themselves as follows:

* Childnet International: a UK-based charity working domestically and internationally to help make the Internet a great and safe place for children and young people, alongside enabling them to use interactive technologies safely and responsibly.

* Common Sense Media: an independent non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing trustworthy information and education that kids and families need to thrive in a world of media and technology.

* Connect Safely: the leading interactive resource on the web for parents, teens, educators — everyone — engaged and interested in youth safety on the fixed and mobile social web.

* The Family Online Safety Institute: works to make the online world safer for kids and their families by identifying and promoting best practice, tools and methods in the field of online safety, that also respect free expression.

* WiredSafety: the largest online safety, education and help group program in the world and provides help, information and education to Internet and mobile device users of all ages, especially on cyberbullying matters.

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Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons