Facebook to Add Child Safety “Panic Button” Application

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, a government law enforcement agency, has been after social networking sites to provide protections for its underage users. Social networking sites, says CEOP, provide comparatively easy venues for child predators. The agency has seen some success–Bebo and MySpace already adopted the panic button–but Facebook resisted for a long time, saying its own protection was sufficient.

But, reports the BBC, after the rape and murder of a 17-year-old by a 33-year-old who met him on Facebook, CEOP had enough momentum to renegotiate with Facebook. Now, Facebook announced that they’ll integrate the panic button as a downloadable application–it won’t be built in, but it’ll be easily gotten.

Jim Gamble, Ceop’s chief executive, said in a statement: “Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCeop button is well documented – today however is a good day for child protection.

“By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCeop button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site.”

The new app reports both to CEOP and to Facebook, which does of course have its own built-in security systems. The app, called ClickCEOP, will be available in the UK–CEOP is a British agency–but it’s not hard to imagine this kind of feature spreading to other countries as well.

Dan Nosowitz, the author of this post, can be followed on Twitter, corresponded with via email, and stalked in San Francisco (no link for that one–you’ll have to do the legwork yourself).DN