Why Texas Held Out on the Safety Deal with Facebook

by Barbara J. Feldman on July 23, 2008

The second largest social networking web site has agreed to raise the bar on their safety measures in order to better protect its users. It has come to this agreement with forty nine of the states and the District of Columbia and has agreed to adopt new safety standards to help more specifically to protect children from sexual predators. So why did Texas hold out on the safety deal with Facebook? What is the deal about and why wouldn’t Texas sign the agreement?

This particular agreement is similar to the one that was reached by MySpace Inc. that also agreed to raise the bar on safety measures, but Texas would not sign the agreement with them either. Along with MySpace, Facebook has agreed to do several things to its website in order to protect all users, but especially children from sexual predators. Some of those safety measures are:

1.Placing restrictions on users over the age of eighteen to seek out younger users by sending warning messages when a child is in danger of providing personal date to an unknown adult.

2.Act more aggressively to remove inappropriate content from group sites.

3.They have agreed to accept and respond to necessary complaints against nudity and pornography as well as any type of harassment and unwelcome contact.

4.They have provided their users with an accessible hyperlink so parents and guardians can give feedback on safety measures.

5.Safety measures will be done annually.

6.They have also agreed to restrict any of its users over the age of eighteen from changing their age to something younger.

All but one of the states decided to sign the agreement, but why? The Texas attorney General Greg Abbott sent a public letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg stating that the deal failed to adequately meet and protect children. He continued to say that they could not endorse any initiative that “fails to implement a reliable age-verification system.”

Greg Abbott said that by endorsing and signing the agreement with Facebook would give the citizens of Texas, parents, and children a false sense of security. This is similar to what he said to the executive of MySpace Chris DeWolfe.

It would seem that for now, Texas will continue to encourage parents and children to take their own precautions against sexual predators on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace. Some of the steps may be to:

Continue to teach children about privacy settings and how to use them properly so that unauthorized users will not be able to break into their profiles and use their personal information.
Encourage parents to teach children not to share private information that can be used offline such as listing phone numbers and addresses as well as credit card numbers and social security numbers. This information can be used by sexual predators to find young users and lure them into relationships.

So we may know a little about why Texas held out on the safety deal with Facebook, and hopefully in the future as technology becomes more advanced, Facebook will continue to increase their safety measures and maybe Texas will one day sign the agreement with the other forty nine states.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Why Texas Held Out on the Safety Deal with Facebook." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 23 Jul. 2008. Web. 24 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1409/why-texas-held-out-on-the-safety-deal-with-facebook/ >.