While Mark Zuckerberg is panicking in the US over privacy issues and a new movie portraying him as a social networking version of Ivan the Terrible, Facebook users across the pond have cause for another type of panic. This week it was announced that Facebook in the UK will allow a "panic button" application on its site to ward off cyberbullying and sexual predators.
The button according to a BBC News report is aimed at children and teenagers and will report abuse to the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and Facebook. Once installed, the application will sit on a user's homepage so that "they are in control online," at all times.
Initially Facebook rejected the need to install a "panic" button, indicating that even though Bebo and MySpace had done so, they felt their internal reporting systems were adequate to curb this type of activity. But apparently pressure mounted when Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO learned of a rape and murder of 17-year old Ashleigh Hall by a a 33-year old convicted sex offender, posing as a teenager on Facebook.
Jim Gamble, CEOP's chief executive claimed victory when Facebook finally conceded stating that "our dialogue with Facebook about adopting the ClickCEOP button is…a good day for child protection."
There was also talk about the "Panic Button" heading to the States. Kevin Parrish reported on Tom's Guide that he had spoken to an analyst that indicated eventually Facebook will install a direct reporting link to the US' National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.
According to the Huffington Post, the "panic button" will be optional, and Facebook will not be required to install it by default or display the tool on each page. Instead, Facebook will donate advertising to promote the jointly-created application and display it on every UK teen's home page. Although the CEOP will have a presence on the social networking site, apparently for time being, Facebook will continue with its internal reporting system.
Cyber abuse is growing exponentially where 42% of American children have been bullied online, and 1 in 5 US teenagers say they received unwanted sexual solicitation. Unfortunately, the main problem with the "panic button" app as outlined is that online predators can just avoid Facebook users who have the app installed, and target the ones that don't.
So while Zuckerberg continues to juggle one crisis after another, its positive 'social brand' quotient diminishes. Many have wondered how Hollywood could possibly make a movie based on "one social network." However, while this issue is just a small slice of the bigger pie, criticism like this just keeping adding more logs to the fire. And for a CEO to be labled a "Punk, Genius, Prophet, Traitor," there's a lot of mixed feelings in the country today regarding the leader of the Facebook band already!