Facebook rules out panic button

Facebook says it will not install a
“panic button” on its main pages for users to report suspected paedophiles,
but will develop its existing system.

The company says it will have links
to organisations including the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre
on its reporting pages.

But the director of the centre says
there should be a button on every page.

The conviction of Peter Chapman for
the murder of 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall led to renewed calls for a “panic
button”.

The convicted sex offender lured
the teenager to her death using Facebook.

Earlier, the Home Secretary said
Facebook executives had told him they had “no objection in principle”
to installing the safety button.

Alan Johnson said he and the site’s
executives had had a “frank exchange of views” during the meeting,
following calls for Facebook to link to the Child Exploitation and Online
Protection centre.

But Richard Allan, director of
policy for Facebook Europe, made clear the company was not considering
including the button on its main site.

He said the button might be
effective in principle, but only “for other sites”, and not Facebook.

Speaking about the meeting, Mr
Johnson said: “I emphasised that including the abuse reporting button on
their site has the potential to transform child protection – and that the
company should put this above all other considerations.”

He said a high-level meeting would
be held between Facebook and centre officials in Washington on 12 April to
discuss it further.

Defending Facebook’s current
set-up, a spokesman said they had been pleased to provide Mr Johnson with
further details about their “robust reporting system”.

“We will also explore adding
the panic button to our safety centre,” he added.

Peter Chapman, 33, was jailed for
at least 35 years this month for killing Ashleigh Hall last October.

She was raped, suffocated and her
body dumped in a field near Sedgefield, County Durham, after agreeing to meet
Chapman.

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