Florida Attorney General Reaches Deal With Facebook To Boost Social Networking Safety

Company will join MySpace task force to explore possibilities of age and identity verification technology ~

TALLAHASSEE, FL – LAWFUEL – Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum today announced that Florida has joined 48 states and the District of Columbia in an agreement with Facebook, a popular internet social networking site. The agreement focuses on several changes Facebook will make to better protect children from predators and inappropriate content and to participate in a task force on implementation of age and identity verification software.

“All too often, children are careless about what they share with strangers online, and we must continue working to protect our children from predators who may exploit social networking sites to locate their next victim,” said Attorney General McCollum. “I applaud Facebook for joining the Attorneys General in our quest to improve internet safety.”

As a result of today’s agreement, Facebook has agreed to implement several changes to its site, including a measure of protection to address a behavior known as “grooming,” where predators lie about their age online in order to seduce their victims. Facebook staff will review initial age change requests and each requestor’s profile to determine whether the requested change is appropriate for each user. Facebook will also more prominently display safety tips; require users under 18 to affirm they have read Facebook’s safety tips when they sign up; and regularly review models for abuse reporting.

Additional changes will include the provision of automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult. The site will act more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site by maintaining a list of pornographic websites and regularly sever any links to such sites. The site will also remove groups and individual memberships for incest, pedophilia, cyberbullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services.

The safety requirements will be extended to third party vendors and companies offering Facebook user services, called “widgets.” These companies will now have to implement and enforce Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

The Facebook agreement is similar to one MySpace reached in January with
49 states and the District of Columbia. Under that agreement, MySpace agreed to head a task force to explore and develop age and identity identification tools for social networking sites. Facebook has joined this task force and will participate in developing the internet safety initiatives.

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