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By 16 August 2010 | Categories: news

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Last month Facebook introduced a new ‘panic’ button feature to its website for British users and since then a sevenfold increase in reports of suspicious behaviour online has been reported.

The ClickCEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) application which must be downloaded separately (i.e. not standard Facebook functionality) has been downloaded over 55 000 times since it launched in the UK last month.

The aim of the application, which is advertised to users between the ages of 13 and 18, is to prevent predatory individuals from gaining access to young people online.

In the last month a total of 211 Facebook users utilised the button, compared to just 28 who reported alleged abuses through the site’s channels during the month before the app was released.

“The response to this campaign has been excellent so far. The sheer numbers of people who have engaged with the app, including the volume of positive comments received via the wall has shown that this move has been extremely well received by parents and young people alike”, said Jim Gamble, CEO of the CEOP Centre.

Concerns about children’s safety online grew during the past few months after a 33-year-old convicted sex offender was arrested in March for the rape and murder of Ashleigh Hall, a 17-year-old he had met via Facebook pretending to be a teenage boy.

The application doesn’t give protection only from online predators though, it can also be a place where children get advice on how to deal with bullying and other concerning social issues.

Facebook welcomed the new  application as Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa stated, “There is no single answer to making the Internet safer but CEOP have taken a great step forward by setting up their ClickCEOP page.”

There are currently no reports of this application being implemented for all Facebook users, though similar applications is sure to surface in its wake.

How do you feel about online safety and especially Facebook related privacy concerns? Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comment box below.

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