Facebook offers panic button

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Facebook offers panic button

Site reaches agreement with UK child welfare agency.

Facebook has agreed to launch a new application designed to provide access to an alert button on the profile pages of its UK users, following months of discussions with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The button, which Facebook had resisted for some time, can be used by young people in the UK to report inappropriate behaviour on the social networking site.

CEOP said that Facebook users of all ages, but particularly those aged between 13 and 18, will benefit from the button, which links to help and information from CEOP.

"Our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCEOP button is well documented, but today is a good day for child protection," said CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble.

"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."

Joanna Shields, Facebook's vice president for EMEA, claimed that "nothing is more important than the safety of our users", which is why the company had " invested so much in making Facebook one of the safest places on the internet".

"There is no single silver bullet to making the internet safer but, by joining forces with CEOP, we have developed a comprehensive solution which marries our expertise in technology with CEOP's expertise in online safety," she said.

The agreement between Facebook and CEOP comes after months of negotiations and even the attempted intervention by former home secretary Alan Johnson.

The social networking firm finally agreed to a panic button in March, but only on the Safety Centre section of the site.

Pressure on Facebook to introduce greater protection for its younger users increased earlier this year when it emerged that murdered teenager Ashleigh Hall had met her killer on the site.

In Australia, the Federal Police has called on Facebook to offer a 'one-click panic alarm'.

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