Facebook launches 'panic button' child safety app

Facebook launches child safety app in association with UK's CEOP child protection agency
Facebook launches child safety app in association with UK's CEOP child protection agency

Facebook is set to launch a new initiative with the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to give all of its users potential access to CEOP's advice and services, in a move set to appease critics.

CEOP is the government law enforcement agency that tracks down online sex offenders. It has been in negotiations with Facebook over the installation of a 'panic button' for users since late last year.

ClickCEOP app launches

The latest initiative with CEOP will provide users with a Facebook app which is very similar to such a panic button, although users will have to install the app by choice.

A ClickCeop button added to your Facebook will then give younger users the option of reporting suspected inappropriate behaviour from others they encounter on the site.

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

Online child safety awareness

Facebook plans to run an awareness campaign online to promote the ClickCEOP button, with an automatic advert set to appear on every homepage of users aged between 13 to 18.

"We know from speaking to offenders that a visible deterrent could protect young people online," said Joanna Shields, vice president of Facebook for Europe, Middle East and Africa.

"There is no single silver bullet to making the Internet safer but by joining forces with Ceop we have developed a comprehensive solution... and backed this with an awareness campaign to publicise it to young users."

Facebook's head of communications in the UK, Sophy Silver, told BBC News that both CEOP and Facebook were "happy of where we have got to."

The Facebook PR added: "We still have the Facebook reporting system and by having a pre-packaged application that users play an active part in, you not only help keep them safe, it makes all of their friends aware too, and acts as a viral awareness campaign.

"Ultimately though, this makes for a safer environment for users and that's the most important part."

Adam Hartley