(Adds details of settlement, comments)
NEW YORK Oct 16 Facebook Inc, the fast-growing
social network Web site, has agreed to settle a child safety
probe in New York, the New York state attorney said on
Top social networks Facebook and MySpace, which is part of
Rupert Murdoch's News Corp NWSa.N, have come under fire from
state regulators for failing to do more to police their sites
against adults who prey on teenagers, one of the biggest groups
using social network sites.
"Social networking sites, popular among young people, have
quickly gained members and appeal, but also act as a magnet for
those who would prey on the young," New York Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo said.
The settlement involves no financial penalties.
Under the terms of the settlement, Facebook has agreed to
begin addressing any complaint within 24 hours of being told of
inappropriate content -- involving such things as nudity,
profanity or harassment -- by a user or e-mail correspondent.
The company will tell the complaining party the steps it
has taken within 72 hours when the complaint has been submitted
via an independent e-mail.
In addition, the Palo Alto, California-based company has
agreed to allow an independent examiner to oversee how Facebook
handles such complaints. The attorney general will have a say
in who gets hired as examiner. The examiner will report to the
New York attorney general every six months over a two-year
period on Facebook's compliance.
"The attorney general pointed out some weaknesses in our
complaint-handling process," Facebook Chief Privacy Officer
Chris Kelly said. "What he has directed us to do is renew our
vigilance around complaint handling."
Cuomo said late last month that he had subpoenaed Facebook
to learn what more the social networking site could do to
protect young users from sexual predators and for failing to
respond promptly to user complaints about such safety issues.
As part of their probe, state investigators set up
undercover accounts and then contacted Facebook, expecting the
company to respond rapidly to reports of abusive content.
"We addressed them in a way that we were not happy with,"
Kelly said. "There is a real opportunity here to set a
Facebook is under investigation by a working group of
attorneys general representing all 50 U.S. states.
"This agreement is another step toward protecting children
on social networking sites but we still have a long way to go,"
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said in a separate
statement. "Our group of attorneys general will keep pushing
MySpace, Facebook and other sites to do more."
(Reporting by Paritosh Bansal in New York with additional
reporting by Eric Auchard in San Francisco; editing by Gerald