50,000 Facebook Users Press Panic Button To Report Sexual Predators

A panic button application installed into Facebook in the UK after pressure from a prominent British child protection organization, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), is reportedly a success.

The new application, called ClickCeop, prompted 211 new reports of suspicious behavior from UK Facebook users in the last month. Since the application was introduced on July 12, it has been downloaded 55,000 times, with over 100,000 visits to the page and 20,000 people have ‘liked ClickCEOP‘ which means that regular status updates will appear in their newsfeeds, keeping users up to speed with online safety advice and information. All of the 211 reports came from the app and were all classified as serious offenses, such as sexual grooming. Jim Gamble, CEO of the Ceop Centre, said,

“We are grateful to all those who have downloaded the app and shared the app with their online networks – and similarly grateful for the support of all our partners and the virtual ‘army’ of tens of thousands of CEOP volunteers who are sharing the CickCEOP app with young people at their schools, youth groups and online networks. Together we really can make a difference to the safety of young people online.”

Facebook was happy about the news but stressed that the app was only one of many ways to improve online safety for young people. Said Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice-president of sales and business development for Europe, the Middle East and Africa said, “Its great news that so many users have interacted with ClickCeop by downloading the application or liking the page. There is no single answer to making the internet safer but Ceop have taken a great step forward by setting up their ClickCeop page.

Facebook fielded pressure from the UK Government and then Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which wanted the panic button added to each user’s profile page. Instead, the app was introduced and Facebook put a link to the Ceop homepage in the site’s Safety Center. The site also faced pressure from parents of victims of sexual abuse, rape and murder stemming from relationships and connections made through Facebook.

Many think the button is not the answer, despite it being somewhat successful in the last month since it was introduced. Children do not realize when they are being sexually groomed, or are afraid to be the one to tell. Too many people who don’t really need help will push the button, and those who really need the help won’t.

Still others believe that it is the site’s responsibility to monitor their own users, and it should not be the duty of the general user population to moderate the activity of others.

What do you think? Should Facebook be responsible for identifying sexual predators?