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Bebo and CEOP push the button on suspect behaviour

Bebo has added a button that allows kids to seek help from and report suspect behaviour to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Social network Bebo has added a button for users to report suspect behaviour. The CEOP Report button was developed with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Gawd bless the Daily Mail and the Sun, branding the CEOP button a "paedo panic button". The actual function of the button is less hysterical: clicking on it gives you access to help, advice and links from services such as Childline and Beatbullying. The button also allows you to report suspect behaviour to special police units.

Jim Gamble, head of the CEOP, went on to criticise Facebook and MySpace, saying they had no excuse not to add the button. Both of those sites are substantially bigger than Bebo, and have much greater international traction, setting a substantially bigger technical challenge to regionalise the information. A more cynical view would be that Web services aren't keen for people to report bad behaviour, because then they'd have to do something about it. Reporting to the police via the button removes the onus from Bebo and should act as a deterrent to user hoaxes and abuse.

Bebo has age restrictions in place, so users can set age limits on those who can see their profiles and contact them. We just remembered we have a Bebo profile, so we signed in for the first time in about three years. No sign of the button yet. The CEOP button is already working at ThinkUKnow.co.uk, a friendly guide to keeping safe online.

The CEOP has been working with Bebo for three years now, which is when we published these still-relevant tips for safe social networking.

On a lighter note, see if there's a niche social network for you, and find out what your favourite Web sites say about you.