Facebook Adds Optional Ceop Panic Button

After months of pressure from media and politicians, Facebook has added a child protection “panic button”, but it is part of the optional ClickCeop application.

The ClickCEOP app offers users a tab, a badge and a bookmark for the Facebook profile, which children can use to directly contact the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Proection) agency if they encounter behaviour that troubles them online. It is optional, and children are encouraged to share it with their friends, but the button is is not on present all its pages as CEOP had requested.

All Facebook users aged  between 13 and 18 will automatically receive an advert for the ClickCEOP button, and the app will be further promoted by a Facebook page which users can “Like”.

Social network bows to pressure

Following the murder of 17 year old Facebook user Ashleigh Hall by serial rapist Peter Chapman, CEOP put pressure on Facebook to install its the button as standard. Facebook resisted this, arguing its own measures were good enough, and it did not need to add a UK-specific measure.

Instead, it added a 24-hour police hotline to pass UK reports to the based CEOP Centre, and a £5 million education and awareness programme.

Members of the UK Labour government, including Home Secretary Alan Johnson, and Harriet Harman, called for Facebook to add the CEOP button, before the general election.  Facebook countered with a request for access to strategic data on sex offenders – mirroring a programme in the US which already gives Facebook access to such information there.

The UK government promoted the CEOP  button in a February campagin for child safety online, but Facebook argued that this sort of button reduces the reporting of abuse, claiming that it would get better results by putting the CEOP link on its existing reporting pages.

The public uproar over privacy has forced Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to reconsider earlier statements that users don’t really require or expect a high level of privacy, and pushed the social network to improve the way privacy settings are managed online.

“Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented, Today, however, is a good day for child protection,” Jim Gamble, the chief executive of Ceop, said in a statement reported in the Guardian.

Peter Judge

Peter Judge has been involved with tech B2B publishing in the UK for many years, working at Ziff-Davis, ZDNet, IDG and Reed. His main interests are networking security, mobility and cloud

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