McGrath: States, Facebook Reach Agreement on Teen Internet Safety
HELENA – Montana Attorney General Mike McGrath said Thursday that Facebook has agreed to expand its efforts to protect children using the popular social networking site.
Facebook allows users to choose networks, so they can interact online with other users who attend the same school, live in the same area or have the same occupation. Under the agreement announced Thursday, the site will work to determine whether a user is actually affiliated with a school network, and provide an easy way for users to report members who don’t belong in a network.
Facebook also agreed to enforce “age locking” for existing and new profiles. After initial registration, if a user under the age of 18 wants to change his or her age on the site, a customer service representative will first review the user’s profile. Users under 18 can block all users over 18 from contacting them or viewing their profile, and users over the age of 18 will be unable to do an age-based search for anyone under age 18.
“All of us benefit from technology,” McGrath said. “It is important that we also use that technology to help ensure a safer online experience for young people.”
Facebook will also provide more safety tools for all members and will offer safety tips specifically for parents. It will also establish a 24-hour hotline to respond to law enforcement inquiries.
“Sites like Facebook have agreed to work more closely with law enforcement, so law enforcement can act quickly to investigate and prosecute Internet crime,” McGrath said. “And as always, parent involvement is essential.”
The agreement announced Thursday is similar to one reached in January with MySpace. Under that agreement, MySpace agreed to organize a task force to explore and develop age and identity verification tools for social networking sites. Facebook has agreed to participate on that task force.
Attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia signed the agreement.