Monday the UK portal of Facebook will receive a "panic button" for British users aged 13 to 18-years-old. The "button" comes after many months of negotiations with the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center (CEOP), and will allow minors to report criminal activity such as "grooming, "sexual behavior, cyber-bullying, hacking, and more. However the new tool won't send up flares or nuke offending accounts--the tool will merely link to places where reports can be made, and to important internet safety messages.
When asked why Facebook finally caved in to the pressures of the British authorities, Stephen Beard said that the decision was related to a rape and murder of a 17-year-old girl last October. "She was killed by a 33-year-old sex offender who she'd met on Facebook. He'd been posing as a teenager," he said. "So now Facebook has agreed to this new panic button for young British Facebook users. If they're worried about cyber-bullying or that they're being stalked, they can click on a link to a British law enforcement agency and report their suspicions."
There was also talk that the virtual "panic button" will head to the States. "One analyst I was talking to this morning said he thinks it will, that eventually Facebook will install a direct reporting link to the U.S.'s national center for missing and exploited children. But there are many skeptics out there who say actually the best way to curb this kind of abuse, bullying and stalking and so on is for Facebook itself to become a lot more vigilant about the people it allows onto its site."
According to the Huffington Post, the "panic button" will be optional, and Facebook will not be required to install it by default or display the tool on each page. Instead, Facebook will donate advertising to promote the jointly-created application and display it on every UK teen's home page. Although the CEOP will have a presence on the social networking site, apparently Facebook will continue on with its internal reporting system.