Facebook is launching a cyberbullying prevention hub on its website to make it a safer place for teens, marking the first time an Internet company has integrated bullying prevention tools directly into a product.
The social network recently loosened privacy settings for users between ages 13 to 17, allowing them to post publicly. Users younger than 13 are not allowed on Facebook, but age is self-reported on the social network, allowing the potential for some of the website's approximately 1.15 billion users to lie about their age.
To make the network safer Facebook is upgrading the area on its website where people can report bullying, having worked with nonprofits and academics on how to better deliver resources to teens who are being bullied online or to others who may be witnessing bullying, says Matt Steinfield, spokesperson for Facebook. Academic groups working with Facebook on the project include the Center for Emotional Intelligence at Yale University.
"We have experienced that people who might be witnesses to bullying have little information on how they can resolve the situation," Steinfield says.
Online bullying is common among younger generations and often goes unreported, according to research from the i-SAFE Foundation, a youth education nonprofit, Approximately 42 percent of teens have been bullied while online, 35 percent have been threatened online and 58 percent of these children have not shared their problems with an adult, according to i-SAFE.
"Today on Facebook, we encourage anyone who sees harassment or bullying to report it, and we even offer teens the ability to connect with a trusted adult to get help as part of our social reporting tool," according an advance copy of the new safety page, which goes live on Wednesday afternoon. "With the new Bullying Prevention Hub, we'll be arming bullying victims with information on what they can do when they see harassing content, recommendations to adults who want to help, and even guidance to the person accused of bullying on what he or she has done and how he or she can do better."