14 April 2010

Facebook: Why a Safety Center, not a 'panic button'

The Facebook news in the US was its new expanded Safety Center. The news in Britain was that Facebook "STILL refuses to install [a] 'panic button'" on its pages. However, Facebook also announced that its UK users will "now be able to report unwanted or suspicious contact directly to CEOP [the UK's Child Exploitation & Online Protection Center] and other leading safety and child protection organizations via its own reporting system," so CEOP has come very close to getting its wish. But this "panic button" concept is really problematic – and not just because of the word "panic," which suggests brains in crisis mode, with all rational thought switched off. Here's why it's problematic: A single reporting mechanism doesn't cut it. If you consider the really negative behavior that might lead to an abuse report, research shows that it's bullying, not predation, that would get reported far more often. Is law enforcement designed to deal with noncriminal but bad adolescent behavior? Fortunately, the new system Facebook put in place sends only reports of criminal behavior to CEOP. see also Facebook rejects suggested 'Panic Button' for pages (CNET) by Larry Magid and Police tell Facebook: your efforts to combat paedophiles are not enough (Independent).