Facebook, states set bullying, predator safeguards

Published 8:01 am Friday, May 9, 2008

JACKSON (AP) — Facebook, the world’s second-largest social networking Web site, is adding more than 40 new safeguards to protect young users from sexual predators and cyberbullies, says Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood.

Facebook will ban convicted sex offenders from the site, limit older users’ ability to contact subscribers under 18 and participate in a task force set up earlier this year to find ways to better verify users’ ages and identities.

Hood said Thursday that the agreement is not foolproof and that parents should remain active in monitoring their children’s Internet activity.

Email newsletter signup

“The Web is the Wild West,” Hood said. “There are no rules out there. We are trying to implement some, but I don’t want the parents to say the attorneys general are taking care of it, so it is safe. It is not.”

Hood said children run the risk of communicating with sexual predators and of being bullied by other youths. Illegal activities, he said, also can be hatched on sites like Facebook.

Other officials from Washington, D.C., and 48 other states have signed on.

Facebook, which has more than 70 million active users worldwide, already has enacted many of the changes and others are in the works, its officials said Thursday.

“Building a safe and trusted online experience has been part of Facebook from its outset,” said Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer. “The attorneys general have shown great leadership in helping to address the critical issue of Internet safety, and we commend them for continuing to set high standards for all players in the online arena.”