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Facebook to Enhance User Safety Through Formation of Global Advisory Board

As the latest step in its commitment to improve safety on Facebook and across the Web, today the company announced the formation of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board, a group of five leading Internet safety organizations from North America and Europe that will serve in a consultative capacity to the company on issues related to online safety. The five organizations on the board are Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, WiredSafety, Childnet International and The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).

Facebook plans to regularly meet with board members to review the existing safety resources it provides its users, develop new materials, and seek advice on general safety best practices on an ongoing basis. The first task of the board will be to oversee an overhaul of the safety content located in Facebook’s Help Center. The goal of the overhaul is to create a comprehensive resource with specific educational content for parents, teachers, and teens.

The Safety Advisory Board is the latest component of an aggressive global safety agenda for the company. Last week, the New York Attorney General’s office cited Facebook’s cooperation in identifying and disabling the accounts of registered sex offenders, and in early 2008, Facebook signed an agreement with 49 Attorneys General to help protect children from online predators. Facebook also participated in the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology experts that worked together to identify effective tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth. The company is currently partnering with MTV on its "A Thin Line" campaign to prevent digital abuse, and worked with the BBC last month to promote its "Bullyproof" campaign to end cyberbullying. Facebook regularly invites safety organizations like the National Crime Prevention Council to blog about safety for its users, and maintains an active campaign of safety outreach to schools and community groups.

"We believe that the only way to keep kids safe online is for everyone who wants to protect them to work together," said Elliot Schrage, Vice-President of Global Communications and Public Policy at Facebook. "The formation of a board to advise specifically on safety issues is a positive, innovative and collaborative step towards creating a more robust safety environment, and we are thrilled that such a well-respected, trusted group of organizations has joined us in this endeavor."

While Facebook has consulted with external organizations for years on its safety practices, the company created the Safety Advisory Board as a way to gather more feedback and to formalize the relationships it currently maintains with these organizations. Facebook indicated that it may add additional members over time as it identifies appropriate candidates, and as it looks to broaden international representation on the board.

"FOSI is an international online safety organization dedicated to making the Internet safer for all families who use it," said Stephen Balkam, FOSI CEO. "We are honored to be chosen to serve on the Facebook Safety Advisory Board and will work to provide user-friendly guidance on responsible social networking communication and promote awareness on how to be a good digital citizen online."

"At Childnet we are proud to work constructively with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children," said Will Gardner, CEO of Childnet International. "We look forward to bringing over 14 years experience of working with and for children and young people and developing educational resources to the Safety Advisory Board of Facebook. We look forward to the opportunity of advising and influencing one of the most popular social networking providers in the world on an issue that is so crucial to children’s enjoyment of and participation in this environment."

"WiredSafety provides help, awareness, resources and education to cyberspace users of all ages covering all digital risks," said Parry Aftab, Executive Director of Wired Safety. "Our volunteers have been helping people online since 1995, and WiredSafety, along with our Teenangels and WiredMoms programs, has been advising Facebook on safety best practices for years. We are pleased to continue and formalize that relationship as a member of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board. Users helping users and awareness and education are central to keeping everyone safe online. We are excited about the opportunities to do even more by empowering Facebook’s users and providing them with information they need."

"Having advised Facebook on its privacy and safety policies since 2006, we’re happy to formalize that relationship by being part of Facebook’s new Safety Advisory Board," said Anne Collier, co-director of ConnectSafely. "Our hope is to proactively look out for the safety and privacy concerns of Facebook users, especially its younger ones."

"Facebook is a leader in creating technology that connects kids with people, communities and exciting educational opportunities. We at Common Sense Media applaud them for creating the Safety Advisory Board to help teach and protect both kids and parents in the digital world that we now live in," said James P. Steyer, CEO and Founder of Common Sense Media. "We’re thrilled to partner with the other outstanding organizations on the board, all of whom are committed to building a strong community of safe, smart, digital citizens."

 [December 8, 2009]


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