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May 08, 2008
Attorney General McKenna announces nationwide agreement with Facebook to protect kids online

OLYMPIA – Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna today announced that Facebook has agreed to take significant steps to better protect children on its Web site. McKenna joined attorneys general nationwide in signing an agreement with Facebook, in which they emphasize their shared goal of protecting children from inappropriate content and unwanted contact by adults.

The agreement is similar to one that MySpace reached in January with 49 states and the District of Columbia. MySpace agreed to head a task force, which Facebook has joined, focused on developing technology to verify the age and identity of social networking site users. The task force will report back to the attorneys general every three months and issue a formal report with findings and recommendations at the end of 2008.

“This agreement establishes that Facebook shares our concerns about creating a safe online environment for children and teens to network,” McKenna said. “Tools like age authentication technology can help protect children from sex predators who use the Internet to contact potential victims.”

Facebook agreed to:

  • Provide automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult.
  • Restrict the ability of users to change their listed ages. Under the changes, the first time a Facebook user wants to change his or her age, staff will review the profile to determine whether the change is appropriate.
  • Require users under 18 to affirm they have read Facebook’s safety tips when they sign up.
  •  Act more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site.
  • Maintain a list of pornographic websites and regularly sever any links to such sites. The company 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.

In addition, companies offering Facebook users services called “widgets” will now have to implement and enforce Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines.

The agreement was signed by attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia.

Facebook Joint Statement with Appendix

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Media Contact:  Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432

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