Wed 14 Apr 2010
Facebook's new Safety Center won't prevent you or your teenager from being harassed or coming into contact with slimy individuals, but it will help you get a grip on how to handle the situation. The company unveiled the redesigned section of the site Tuesday. It offers numerous resources to users, parents, educators, and even law enforcement, with input from a board of organizations aimed at improving online safety for users of all ages.
There's not much in the Safety Center for savvy 'Net users. However, for less techie users like our friends, coworkers, and family members, the Safety Center acts as a helpful one-stop shop for finding all manner of information. For example, users can find step-by-step instructions on what to do if someone is impersonating them on Facebook, how to report unwanted messages, what to do if a current or ex-spouse is controlling your account, how to report offensive Facebook groups, and what to do if another user makes a suicide threat.
These are just a handful of the topics covered under the General Safety section—there are topics of interest for parents and law enforcement too. Police can report a registered sex offender to Facebook, for example, or suspected terrorist activity. The parent section is largely to help them help their teens deal with cyberbullying and other abusive content, though it also offers information on what Facebook's privacy policies are for minors as well as how parents can better understand this Big Scary Internet that their kids are partaking in.
As critics have pointed out, Facebook seems to be dancing around its own shortcomings when it comes to promoting safety—many users feel that Facebook has made its site less safe recently by making nearly all user information public by default. Indeed, it's easy for casual users to post information that they thought was private and have it broadcast to the world instead. This remains a sticking point for safety critics, but the Safety Center still offers a plethora of resources beyond what nearly every other social network makes available to its users.