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For Immediate Release

Media Contact:
Raquel Guillory, 410-576-6357
rguillory@oag.state.md.us

Attorney General Gansler Announces Agreement with Facebook to Make Site Safer for Underage Users

BALTIMORE, MD (May 8, 2008) – Building on efforts to improve social networking safety, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler today announced that Maryland, 48 other states, and the District of Columbia have reached an agreement with the social networking website Facebook that will better protect children from predators and inappropriate content. The agreement is similar to one that the states reached in January with MySpace. As part of that agreement, MySpace agreed to head the task force, which Facebook has now agreed to join, to explore and develop age and identity identification tools for social networking sites.

Changes agreed to by Facebook include providing automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult; restricting the ability of users to change their listed ages; acting more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site; and requiring third party vendors to adhere to Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

“As the popularity of social networking sites continues to grow, the steps being taking by sites like Facebook and MySpace are essential to helping keep our young people safer while online,” said Attorney General Gansler. “I applaud the willingness of these companies to take the steps necessary to protect children from predators and to educate parents about the steps they can take to help prevent their child from becoming a victim while online.”

Under the changes, the first time a Facebook user wants to change his or her age, website staff will review their profile to determine whether the change is appropriate. Facebook also has agreed to maintain a list of pornographic websites and regularly sever any links to such sites. It will remove groups for incest, pedophilia, cyberbullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services, as well as expel from the site individual violators of those terms. The company will also more prominently display safety tips and require users under 18 to affirm they have read Facebook’s safety tips when they sign up.

   

Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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