As the latest step in its commitment to improve safety on Facebook and across the Web, the popular social networking site announced the formation of the Facebook Safety Advisory Board, a group of five leading Internet safety organizations from North America and Europe that will serve in a consultative capacity to the company on issues related to online safety. The five organizations on the board are Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely, WiredSafety, Childnet International and The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI).
Facebook plans to regularly meet with board members to review the existing safety resources it provides its users, develop new materials, and seek advice on general safety best practices on an ongoing basis. The first task of the board will be to oversee an overhaul of the safety content located in Facebook’s Help Center. The goal of the overhaul is to create a comprehensive resource with specific educational content for parents, teachers, and teens.
The Safety Advisory Board is the latest component of an aggressive global safety agenda for the company. Last week, the New York Attorney General’s office cited Facebook’s cooperation in identifying and disabling the accounts of registered sex offenders, and in early 2008, Facebook signed an agreement with 49 Attorneys General to help protect children from online predators. Facebook also participated in the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology experts that worked together to identify effective tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth. The company is currently partnering with MTV on its "A Thin Line" campaign to prevent digital abuse, and worked with the BBC last month to promote its "Bullyproof" campaign to end cyberbullying. Facebook regularly invites safety organizations like the National Crime Prevention Council to blog about safety for its users, and maintains an active campaign of safety outreach to schools and community groups.
"We believe that the only way to keep kids safe online is for everyone who wants to protect them to work together," said Elliot Schrage, Vice-President of Global Communications and Public Policy at Facebook. "The formation of a board to advise specifically on safety issues is a positive, innovative and collaborative step towards creating a more robust safety environment, and we are thrilled that such a well-respected, trusted group of organizations has joined us in this endeavor."
While Facebook has consulted with external organizations for years on its safety practices, the company created the Safety Advisory Board as a way to gather more feedback and to formalize the relationships it currently maintains with these organizations. Facebook indicated that it may add additional members over time as it identifies appropriate candidates, and as it looks to broaden international representation on the board.