Social Networking Sites Ink Safety Pact - InformationWeek

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2/10/2009
12:01 PM
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Social Networking Sites Ink Safety Pact

European online communities will work together to protect the interests of minors.

Seventeen social networking sites have agreed to work together to prevent cyberbullying and protect child users in Europe.

The European Commission announced the agreement among Facebook, MySpace, and more than a dozen other social networking sites to protect minors' privacy. The agreement aims to prevent predators from contacting children online.

"Social networking has enormous potential to flourish in Europe, to help boost our economy and make society more interactive -- as long as children and teenagers have the trust and the right tools to remain safe when making new 'friends' and sharing personal details online," Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for information, society, and the media, said in a statement.

The social networking sites said they would make sure children's profiles are not searchable internally or externally. They'll provide a link to report abuse with a single click. They'll make sure that minors' profile pages default to private settings.

The social networking sites agreed to make "significant" progress toward complying with the pact by April. The sites that agreed to the rules include Arto, Bebo, DailyMotion, Giovani.it, YouTube, Habbo Hotel, Hyves, Netlog, Nasza-klasa.pl, One.IT, Skyrock, StudiVZ, Yahoo Europe, and Zap.lu.

Authorities in the United Kingdom and the United States have helped broker similar agreements with social networking sites.

Last week, MySpace revealed that it had blocked more than 90,000 registered sex offenders from its site over the last two years. Facebook issued a statement expressing sympathy toward high school students who authorities claim were sexually assaulted by a schoolmate posing as a girl to obtain nude photos and blackmail the students for sexual "favors." The site also released a list of tips for user safety.

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