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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Pact for solid social Web safety measures in Europe

This is timely news for global Safer Internet Day (today): 17 social-media companies across Europe have struck a deal with the European Commission to put in place safeguards for young social networkers by April, The Guardian reports. US-based Facebook, MySpace, and YouTube are among the signatories. [Brief editorial comment: this is much more viable an agreement than trying to impose age verification on sites based only in a single country, which is what the US attorneys general are pushing for and which the EC has already ruled out as a solution for safer social networking.] Safeguards include prominent "report abuse" buttons; under-18 profiles private by default; clear, prominent privacy instructions; under-18 profiles not searchable; and keeping underage users (usually under-13s) from setting up accounts, reports paidContent:UK (MySpace and Facebook already have these in place). "The agreement brings a number of small sites into line with their bigger rivals - signatories also include Bebo, French video website DailyMotion and Habbo Hotel, the popular virtual world for children," according to the BBC, which adds that the safety measures are similar to those in the British Home Office's best practices guidelines, put forth last April (see this item). Meanwhile, Commission today kicked off its first cyberbullying-awareness campaign with a one-minute video (see the top of this BBC piece). [Another brief editorial comment: More evidence of online-safety enlightenment in Europe while a step forward here - the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's report released last month - is being discredited by the state attorneys general.]

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