EU reaches accord to curb online 'bullying'
[Cyberbullying] Seventeen social networking sites in Europe, including Facebook and MySpace, signed a pact Tuesday aimed at curbing 'cyberbullying' and protecting the privacy of underage users, the European Commission said. The commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said the agreement would reduce the risk of online harassment among children and curb 'grooming' - the practice of adults' befriending children online with the intention of committing sexual abuse. The use of social networks has grown over the past year by 35 percent in Europe and is expected to more than double to 107.4 million users by 2012, the commission said. It warned that this increase would expose more children to online risks. MySpace, owned by News Corp., last week revealed to U.S. investigators that it had barred about 90,000 registered sex offenders from using the site over the past two years. The voluntary agreement, the European Commission said, is intended to ensure that private profiles of users under the age of 18 are not searchable on the Web sites or search engines; provide an easy-to-use and accessible 'report abuse' software button, allowing users to report inappropriate contact from or conduct by another user with one click; and ensure that the full online profiles and contact lists of Web site users who are registered as under 18 years of age are set to 'private' by default, making it more difficult for people with bad intentions to contact young people. (International Herald Tribune)