Facebook ClickCEOP child-protection app: Just don't call it a panic button

Facebook and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre have launched the ClickCEOP app to keep kids safe on the social network. Hopefully it'll end the tabloid hysteria

Facebook has finally joined forces with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre with the ClickCEOP app launched today. The app is designed to protect young users of Facebook from potential abuse.

The importance of protecting children online can't be overstated, so ClickCEOP is to be welcomed. Hopefully the arrival of this app will bring to an end some of the more hysterical reporting on the subject.

ClickCEOP links to useful information and advice on staying safe online. Clicking through to the CEOP Web site allows you to report potential abuse.

Install the app and you have the option to add a tab to your profile, alongside your wall, info, photos and Farmville. Most importantly, you can then share the app to your newsfeed so all your friends see it. This is, after all, how Facebook works -- no-one uses Facebook to hear what Facebook has to say, you use Facebook to hear what your friends have to say. The app is available to all Facebook users, not just kids, and younger users will see an advert for the app.

Bebo was the first to add a CEOP button in November last year. Facebook has been accused of arrogance and complacency by CEOP for refusing to install what the media dubbed a 'panic button'. Despite what the tabloids would have you believe -- the Sun still calls it a "perv panic button", for heaven's sake -- the app doesn't send child-protection officers crashing through a paedophile's window the second it's pressed. Nor does it report abuse, as many seem to think: most social networks, including Facebook, have their own reporting mechanisms.

Rather than panicking, we hope both parents and kids will use the app to understand the best ways to stay safe online and make the most of the technical safeguards in place around the Web. CEOP head Jim Gamble told the BBC that "it's not a panic button and never has been", so we're hoping the term disappears soon. The whole affair has highlighted the frequently hysterical, sensationalist -- and downright misleading -- reporting on the subject of child protection.

ClickCEOP can be installed at apps.facebook.com/clickceop. While you're at it, now might be a good time to check your privacy settings . Let us know in the comments whether you think Facebook has done enough, or if it's still letting our children down. And don't panic!

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About the author

Rich Trenholm is a senior editor at CNET where he covers everything from phones to bionic implants. Based in London since 2007, he has travelled the world seeking out the latest and best consumer technology for your enjoyment.

 

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