Facebook, Cuomo reach safety agreement

John O'Brien Oct. 16, 2007, 2:37pm


NEW YORK - The social networking site Facebook.com will reform its safeguards as a result of a settlement with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo says the terms of the agreement are targeted at protecting Facebook's 47 million users, especially children and adolescents, from sexual predators, obscene content and harassment.

"Social networking sites, popular among young people, have quickly gained members and appeal, but also act as a magnet for those who would prey on the young," Cuomo said. "Our agreement with Facebook offers a new model of cooperative action that balances the freedom offered by the Internet with the necessary protections for children traveling on the information superhighway."

Facebook will be required to respond to user complaints about nudity, pornography, harassment or unwelcome contact within 24 hours and allow an Independent Safety and Security Examiner to report on its compliance for two years.

Another popular social networking site, MySpace.com, has been in frequent contact with state attorneys general. They requested information about registered sex offenders who use the site.

At first, MySpace argued that federal law prevented them from handing over the info, though it wished to comply. Eventually, MySpace supplied it.

"I applaud Facebook for addressing my office's concerns about the site's representation that they provided a safe environment and an expeditious complaint review process," Cuomo said. "I believe our agreement will provide additional confidence to young people and parents alike and give Facebook a competitive advantage in the marketplace for setting a new standard for safety."

Facebook's founder and CEO said he was happy to strike the deal with Cuomo.

"Privacy and safety have been a priority since we first built Facebook," Mark Zuckerberg said. "Our agreement with Attorney General Cuomo will set new industry standards to stop abuse online. We applaud the Attorney General's leadership and are committed to working together to keep Facebook safe."

Cuomo had subpoenaed Facebook, claiming it could face consumer fraud charges if it was found to not be ensuring its users' safety from sexual predators, as it claims to do.

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