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Facebook Child Safety App to Report Online Predators in U.K.

facebook panic buttonAfter hearing lengthy complaints and protests from child safety advocates, Facebook has finally decided to implement a new feature designed to help teenage users stay safe online. As Reuters reports, members between the ages of 13 and 18 will now automatically receive an invitation to add an application that allows them to easily report suspicious activity. The feature, which is the result of a joint initiative between Facebook and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), also provides advice and support about staying safe online.

Joanne Shields, Facebook's vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, acknowledges that the new app likely won't be a "silver bullet" of Internet safety, and insists that "it is only through the constant and concerted effort of the industry, police, parents and young people themselves that we can all keep safe online." British crime prevention minister James Brokenshire echoed Shields's sentiments, maintaining that it's still "vital that government continue to work with industry, police, and parents to educate children about the dangers they may face online."

Pressure for Facebook to implement a so-called 'panic button' across user profiles has been building ever since a 17-year-old girl was kidnapped, raped and murdered by a man she'd met on Facebook earlier this year. After initially refusing to implement such a button back in March, the 'Book seems to have arrived at a healthy compromise. It likely won't turn the site into a crime-free playground overnight, though, as its success still relies upon the assumption that teenagers will voluntarily install this application. Psychologically, though, Facebook's new initiative should provide at least one more safety net for its young (and vulnerable) online population. [From: Reuters and Dawn/AFP]

Tags: children, facebook, FacebookApps, FacebookPrivacy, online safety, OnlineSafety, predator, predators, privacy, safety, teen, teenagers, teens, top