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Facebook expands social reporting tools and revamps its Family Safety Center

April 19, 2011 | 12:03 pm


Facebook rolled out a few new security tools on Tuesday that aim to improve how users report bullying, fake profiles and offensive content, in addition to announcing a teacher's guide to the social network.

The world's most popular social media website also launched a redesign of its online Family Safety Center, which has tips for families, educators and teenagers looking to use Facebook safely.

Among the tips for teens is a warning that they are responsible for what they post and how others might respond.

"It's easy to get caught up in the moment and fire off a comment that may seem hilarious at the time," the Playing It Safe page reads. "But remember, what you say can really hurt someone, or come back to haunt you. Think before you post. It only takes a second or two. Ask yourself if you really want to say it. Make sure you don't mind if your friends, classmates, or teachers hear about it later."

However, people all make mistakes and it's never too late to apologize, the teen page said.

Facebook's social reporting tools have been expanded as well, allowing users to notify various parties if they "see something they don't like," Bejar said.

"People can now report bullying, impostor profiles, abusive content and other safety issues simultaneously to Facebook, to the person who posted it, or to a trusted adult who might be able to help address the issue offline," Arturo Bejar, the site's director of engineering, said in a blog post about the new features.

"Safety and child psychology experts tell us that online issues are frequently a reflection of what is happening offline. By encouraging people to seek help from friends we hope that many of these situations can be resolved face to face," he said.

The social reporting tools, which have been available for photos for sometime, can now also be used on other parts of Facebook, such as Profiles, Like Pages and Groups.

The Facebook for Educators guide will be made available as a free download in a few weeks, Bejar said. Written by three teachers, the guide "answers many of teachers' common questions about Facebook," he said.

Facebook also introduced a "two-factor authentication" option for U.S. users Tuesday that seeks to block unauthorized use of a member's account by requiring a one-time code that is sent to the member's cellphone whenever their Facebook account is accessed from a new computer, smart phone or tablet. "This helps us make sure it's really you," Bejar said.

Changes were also made to Facebook's HTTPS browsing option, which provides an encrypted and more secure connection when logging in to the site.

"We're improving HTTPS so if you start using a non-HTTPS application on Facebook, we automatically switch your session back to HTTPS when you're finished," Bejar said.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Image: A screenshot of one of Facebook's social reporting tools. Credit: Facebook