Just weeks after loosening its privacy restrictions for users ages 13-17, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is now strengthening its efforts to curb online bullying. The social networking giant announced in a blog post Wednesday that it will make it easier for teens to reach out to an adult if they feel bullied on the site.
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The Bullying Prevention Hub, which is live starting Wednesday afternoon, will allow users to report bullying incidents and include talking points to help teens, parents and educators better handle harassment and bullying on the site.
The guidelines will not apply to Instagram, the photo-sharing site that Facebook acquired in 2012, despite its popularity among younger users.
“Today on Facebook, we encourage anyone who sees harassment or bullying to report it, and we even offer teens the ability to connect with a trusted adult to get help as part of our social reporting tool. With the new Bullying Prevention Hub, we’ll be arming bullying victims with information on what they can do when they see harassing content, recommendations to adults who want to help, and even guidance to the person accused of bullying on what he or she has done and how he or she can do better,” Facebook said in a release.
Teens who are upset by a comment or photo made on Facebook can press a button to anonymously connect with an adult within their network of friends to report bullying.
Ari Zoldan, CEO of tech consulting firm Quantum Networks, expects other social networks to likely follow suit.
“The cyber-bullying issue has really been in the limelight for the past 12 to 18 months, so it is nice to see Facebook taking a positive position within the internet ecosystem,” Zoldan says. “It’s amazing they hadn’t had these standards in the past, but I think more social networks will start watching Facebook closely in terms of where the bar is being set.”
The big challenge, Zoldan says, is how Facebook will monitor these reports and the actions that will be taken to correct them.
“Policing and enforcing is difficult,” he says. “But Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla in the space, and others see where Facebook moves. The fact that they are taking a position to make this a friendlier and protected environment for children is a positive thing, considering younger demographics continue to log onto Facebook. People will want some level of protection.”