Social networking sites criticised for failing to protect children, 18 November 2009

The head of a government body responsible for keeping children safe has criticised social networking sites for not doing enough to protect youngsters. Jim Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop), said sites such as Facebook and MySpace had “no legitimate reason” for not using a new tool for reporting abuse. His comments came after Bebo introduced a “Ceop report” button for users to log abuse. Clicking on the tool, which appears automatically under users’ profile pictures, opens a window inviting victims to log “violations of Bebo’s terms of service” – including bullying, hate speech and sexually explicit content.

The Ceop button was added across Bebo’s website yesterday. As well as functioning as a bullying deterrent, the tool can be used to report inappropriate behaviour toward a child directly to specially trained Ceop officers. Facebook and MySpace are yet to install the Ceop tool, and Gamble criticised such sites for not taking up the free service.