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Social networking sites 'should protect children'.

A SENIOR police officer responsible for protecting children online yesterday hit out at some of the world's leading social networking sites. Jim Gamble, head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (Ceop) Centre, said Facebook and MySpace could do more to keep youngsters safe.

He said he was disappointed the two internet giants had not adopted a "panic button" for children who fear they are at risk.

His comments came after their competitor Bebo, now owned by AOL, adopted the "Ceop report" button.

The button enables users to report online abuse, bullying and illegal activity, as well as offering advice about hacking and viruses.

It was launched a day after charity Beatbullying pinpointedBeboandMicrosoft's instant messaging service as bullying hot spots.

Mr Gamble said there was "no legitimate reason" for refusing to put the button on a website.

He said: "I do not wantmy criticism to be taken as a swipe at the online industry.

"This is aimed specifically at social networking sites. They are creating a public space that attracts young people, children and adults, so they can make money through advertising.

"We applaud that but do not forget while you do that there is a responsibility, a duty of care, to the young and the vulnerable.

"We are here to help at a low cost. In fact this is free, we are giving away this service.

What cost can you put on child protection? I have seen the horrible aftermath of it."

The Ceop button allows computer users to report fears directly to the Ceop Centre in central London.

There are also links to 10 other sources of help, including Childline and Beatbullying.
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Nov 19, 2009
Words:274
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