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Facebook Reaches Agreement With Attorney General Baker To Make Website Safer For Underage Users

PRESS ADVISORY

Facebook Reaches Agreement With Attorney General Baker To Make Website Safer For Underage Users

May 8, 2008

          Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced today that he and a significant number of state Attorneys General had reached an agreement with the social networking site Facebook under which Facebook has agreed to changes to better protect children from predators and inappropriate content.  Facebook has also agreed to participate in a task force on implementation of age and identity verification software.

          Since 2006,   a multi-state group including Attorneys General from Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia have led a working group of state attorneys general seeking to make social networking safer.  Today’s agreement was joined by Attorneys General from 38 other states in additions to members of the working group.

          The agreement is similar to one that MySpace reached in January with 49 states and the District of Columbia. MySpace agreed to head a task force, which Facebook has joined, to explore and develop age and identity identification tools for social networking sites.  

          Changes agreed to by Facebook include providing automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult; restricting the ability of users to change their listed ages; acting more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site and requiring third party vendors to adhere to Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

          Baker, in announcing the agreement, pledged that he would, “continue to work to make social networking a safer area for our children.”  Baker, who has been a leading advocate for safer social networking, also renewed his call for “parents to have an active and on-going dialogue with their children about rules for using these sites to talk with their friends as well as the potential dangers of social networking sites.”

          Under the changes, the first time a Facebook user wants to change his or her age, website staff will review their profile to determine whether the change is appropriate.

          In addition, companies offering Facebook users services -- called “widgets” -- will now have to implement and enforce Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

          Facebook also has agreed to maintain a list of pornographic websites and regularly sever any links to such sites. It will remove groups for incest, pedophilia, cyberbullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services, as well as expel from the site individual violators of those terms.

Facebook also will:

  • More prominently display safety tips;
  • Require users under 18 to affirm they have read Facebook’s safety tips when they sign up;
  • Regularly review models for abuse reporting and perform a test using the New Jersey Attorney General’s abuse reporting icon.

For a copy of the agreement between the Attorneys General and Facebook, click here.