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Police chiefs back calls for Facebook panic button

Heads of 44 UK forces show support in letter

The heads of 44 of the UK's police forces have backed calls for Facebook to install a 'panic button' on the site. 

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) has been calling for the social network to install the reporting feature after 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall was murdered by Peter Chapman, who she met on the site.

Rival social network Bebo already offers the 'CEOP Report' button, which gives users access to advice and support from the CEOP along with nine other different sources of help, including Childline and Beatbullying, on every profile.

Head of the child protection organisation, Jim Gamble, met with Facebook in Washington on Monday to discuss his concerns and get the social network to "do the right thing for the child protection".

However, while Facebook has agreed to install links to organisations including the CEOP on the site, Gamble said it was "one small step from doing the right thing" as it would still not agree to the 'panic button'.

As a result, 44 police chiefs, including Scotland Yard Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson, signed the letter showing support for the CEOP Report button and urging Facebook and other social networks to install it.

As well as links to the CEOP, Facebook also said it would ensure that any social networkers using the site's current link to report abuse or concerns regarding other users, would also be presented with a pop-up window that enables the report to be forwarded to the CEOP

"There are some issues around the design and the way in which we do that that Jim put to us very forcefully but... in order to change a website as fundamentally as he wishes us to do then that takes some time to work through," said head of policy for Facebook, Richard Allen.

However, Gamble said "the critical issue remains unresolved".

"We believe that, without the deterrence provided by direct visible access to the CEOP button on each and every page, children will not be appropriately empowered, parents cannot be reassured and the offender will not be deterred."

See also: Facebook feud not over despite settlement


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