The attorneys general of 49 states have reached a sweeping agreement with Facebook Inc. to implement new safety and privacy rules designed to protect younger users from sexual predators and inappropriate Internet content.
Under terms of the agreement, Facebook will begin to provide automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult, restrict the ability of users to change their listed ages, and act more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site, Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett said in a statement.
The agreement, which also includes the District of Columbia, is the latest attempt by law enforcement officials to shield children from sexual predators and other strangers on the Internet following a wave of high-profile cases in which adults have been charged with trolling social-network sites to meet young members. The agreement is similar to one reached in January with News Corp.’s rival social network MySpace. News Corp. owns Dow Jones & Co., publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
As part of its agreement, Facebook will join the industry-wide technical task force, which was created after the MySpace agreement, to explore and develop age and identity verification tools. The group will issue a formal report with findings and recommendations at the end of 2008. Companies that make widgets, software applications that provide services to Facebook users, will also be required to implement and enforce the social network’s safety and privacy guidelines.
Furthermore, Facebook has agreed to maintain a list of pornographic Web sites and regularly remove any links to such sites. It has agreed to remove groups for incest, pedophilia, cyber bullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services, and will expel members who violate these terms.