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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FacelessBook and Safer Internet Day

Yesterday was Safer Internet Day, apparently - and the head of the UK Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (coppers, since you ask, devoted to stranger danger', instead of stepdads, priests, Scout leaders and the usual suspects) suggested you'll be safer with...Internet Explorer 8.
Ok, pick yourself up off the floor, it wasn't meant to be THAT funny.
More pertinently, co-regulation of social networking raised its European head, and one of Mme Reding's last acts as INFSO Commissioner featured the Safer Social Networking Principles with a signing ceremony in Luxembourg. 
Now co-regulation normally means legislation, which she is threatening to inflict on Facebook: “If it’s not done by self-regulation, then regulation has to come in,” Reding said in an interview in her office in Brussels. “I wouldn’t like to do it; I will do it if necessary.”
In the case of the Principles - which are mainly about stopping cyberbullying and the proliferation of kids on Facebook, the Commission did not introduce legislation but softer measures - a Taskforce and its position as broker.
Which brings me to my beef about Facelessbook - which I shall reproduce in the vain hope that they actually employ customer services people:
'Dear sirs
Last Thursday my Facebook account was disabled for breaking terms of use 
- particularly ironic as I was sending a message to a friend who has 
just joined Facebook, when I realized his 9-year-old son had an account 
with 70 friends. Pasting your terms of use into the message resulted in 
it being flagged for abuse - I suspect a child had rather cleverly 
flagged your exact warnings about under-age users as abuse!

I am interested to see whether any of these email addresses produces an 
answer as the email I first used resulted in no response over this 5-day 
period, no matter which account I emailed from.

I think I'll have to contact Richard Allan, formerly MP for Sheffield Hallam, then at Cisco, now Facebook Europe - who is definitely one of the good guys in public policy for the Internet. Richard also spent time at the Oxford Internet Institute when I was there in 2004. Richard reported on Facebook's policies to the EC recently.
P.S. It gets worse - 6 weeks and no answer from a human (1 automated email asking if I had solved the problem!), and Facebook's delightful founder's ethics come fully into the spotlight.

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