back to article Child protection campaigners claim hollow victory over Facebook

Child safety campaigners are claiming victory over Facebook in their battle to publish a "panic button" on the dominant social network, but the agreed system falls short of their original demands in one crucial aspect. Today's announcement ends a rancorous campaign spearheaded by Jim Gamble, the chief executive of the Child …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    waste of resources

    If CEOP were serious about child protection they would go directly to the browers (IE, firefox, Opera etc) to get them to add in buttons rather than trying to get PR by going to each website individually. Or they could create a firefox extension (other browers are available) themselves and put it online and anyone could download it.

    1. JasonW

      If CEOP were serious....

      If CEOP had a realistic and unblinkered view...

      Because there's no need for child protection on any other sites, oh no.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If CEOP were serious

      They wouldn't employ Jim Gamble.

  2. yomchi86

    All well and good...

    ...but in my opinion what use is it without parental supervision and education to actually tell the little darlings what is wrong and right. While i'm all for stopping deviants "grooming" kids and stuff like that, maybe if parents actually parented kids would be safer anyway? Of course there are parents out there who look out for their kids and monitor what they do and give advice on "dont talk to strangers" etc but many just let the kids go on the computer and do what they want. Like AC said, if this was a serious effort, add an add in to a browser. Or even better, ban kids from using the internet haha (joke of course)

    just my opinion...

    1. Elmer Phud
      IT Angle

      yeah but

      As a 'responsible' parent, many years ago I added AdBlock to Firefox and pretty much forgot about it. I've got used to not seeing loads of stuff on my browser -- so much that I often barely regocnise the same site on other browsers without AdBlock.

      The result of this is that I don't get to see the adverts on Facebook - and I guess nor would many other people including the target group. No adverts - no anti-perv button and no false compliants from shitty teenagers who objects when someone objects to thier constant use of 'gay' as an insult. (It was a tiny bit of a troll at the time but soon dropped in to me being called a 'pedo' and 'batty boy' ).

  3. Chris Beach


    Not sure what this will do? I do doubt (even with the current education standards) that these kids want to go off with someone to be attacked. So if they don't think they are at risk why would they ever press a 'panic' button?

    1. Anonymous John


      Ashleigh Hall didn't panic. Yet her name is regularly used to justify the need for panic buttons. It isn't as if there are already ways of reporting users.

      1. RISC OS

        It will make the know nothing parents

        think the know nothing Child protection campaigners have done something good... both seem to be under the impression that this is hugh greta big red button... that will magically protect the chidlren.

        Kind of like this:

  4. Lord Lien

    Beer button....

    Can we get Facebook to put in a beer panic button. When I click it, alarm bells sound & some one gets me a fresh cold one from the fridge.

    1. Ascylto
      Big Brother

      Yeah, but ...

      The 'CEOPS' like button would result in a Rozzer visiting your house and, no doubt, arresting you for consumption of alcohol likely to cause a breach of the peace and resisting somethingorother.

  5. Simon Neill

    @add it to the browser

    Actually, its already been done. Ironically its the "mean nasty closed doesn't allow plugins monopoly granny hitting" browser that has gone first.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    panic buttoning...

    ... will become the new swatting if every website had it, a visit from the paedofinder general to the guy that badmouthed you on FB.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brand recognition is everything...

    "...By adding this application, Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCEOP button which should provide reassurance to every parent with teenagers on the site..." - Jim Gamble (CEO) CEOP

    Never quite sure whether Mr Gamble is a salesman, salvationist or policeman. Maybe a bit of all, who knows? - it's hard to tell, what with all the hyperbole and bluff. One thing's for sure: CEOP did get it's way - well, sort of - just as it always was going to. Even the corporate clout of Facebook isn't quite enough to stand up to this moral panic, and certainly not to the kind of emotive vitriol we hear so often from CEOP.

    Positioning itself as a 'market leader' in child protection 'best practice', CEOP are all about 'the brand'. Especially the lucrative global brand. It might only be a partial victory for CEOP, not quite the mandatory front-page exposure they sought, but by capitulating even partially, Facebook are nonetheless going to be spreading that brand recognition wider still... It's worth repeating that CEOP are a part of the UK police service.

    Interestingly, CEOP are all set to widen their official remit this year and beyond, to include missing children and polygraph testing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      This is another quango that needs removing from the public trough of money. Maybe if Gamble and co had to rely on true donations only for support, we might see some practical ways of educating teens and not this PR stunt.

    2. Aculeo

      Polygraph Testing?

      Interesting. I wasn't aware that any British authority (beyond the daytime TV squawk shows that sadly have such authority in too many people's lives) had accepted that there is any scientific basis behind the use of a polygraph as a 'lie detector'... And I don't know of another purpose for the machines that the said authorities would be interested in.

      1. LaeMing
        Thumb Up

        Polygraphs are GREAT

        With a small amount of practice you can make pretty patterns with them.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also on MSN, which has a CEOP panic button?

    See? See? Panic buttons cause murders!!1!1oneeleventyone!!

    Gamble's rhetoric alone makes me nauseous. I wouldn't want to expose my kids to any of that. Besides, the real point is that it's the parents' responsibility so why not give them tools to carry it out? But noooo, panic! Because it sells more tabloids.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    What a pointless idea.

    Young children should be supervised on the internet by their parents. Not the police, not the Government, not anyone else.

    If older children/young adults are stupid enough to meet complete strangers they meet online then they are going to end up in trouble anyway. People who aren't able to spot the most obvious of dangers aren't going to press the button. It doesn't matter if a 50 year old is pretending to be a 17 year old. You simply don't meet strangers you only met online. It is simple.

    The unfortunate people who have been murdered by wackos on the internet either had useless parents or failed to follow the most basic safety advice.

    A button on facebook isn't going to change any of that.

  10. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!


    Huh? It goes to users who are legally old enough to be having squelchy fun already? Or did someone raise the age of consent to 19 when I wasn't looking?

    Legally, you can have sex with a 16yo. You just can't jack off whilst looking at suggestive pictures of them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 13-18

      They have to be 18 in many parts of the US. But you're right, it doesn't make any kind of sense that they would push this on 18-year-olds who are not "children" by even unrealistic legal definitions.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Panic button

    Much though I would like to, I don't really see how a "panic button" works.

    If the kiddie being targeted suspects something is wrong then they will either stop responding to the suspected perv on the other end of the wire, or they will tell mum or something. The end result is that they stay away from the perv.

    If the kiddie being targeted doesn't suspects something is wrong then they wouldn't hit a panic button anyway.

    The idea is all very laudable, but It doesn't add up.

  12. Tim Jenkins

    'Clueless Parent' button, please

    I was recently on a long train journey sitting opposite an adult acquaintance and their eight year old sprog, who was happily engaged in photographing their parent with a DSi and messaging the results to someone else (presumably) close by. As this was the only child in the carriage, whoever they were in conversation with was definitely much older than them. When I objected to the sportive infant taking my picture and doing the same, the adult expressed utter surprise and bewilderment that such a thing was even possible. They also came out with the classic line "we didn't want them to have a computer in their bedroom, so we got them that to play games on instead", having already described their unsecured home wireless setup...

  13. The First Dave


    So stupid overall, as the one thing this is not about is 'panic' - that is what 999 is for. If there were a genuine need to panic, then a whole bundle of slightly patronising pages is not likely to help much.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I feel safer already

    now if there was only some government funded group children could join to be trained to snitch on their families. Their parents would cry with pride as they are hauled off to be incarcerated. We can only dream.

    "Facebook users will have direct access to all the services that sit behind our ClickCEOP button"

    oh yeah, what services would those be? Live video feeds of the police eating doughnuts as they download all the new information this "app" will give them unrestricted access to? No doubt laughing at how lame your children are - for their protection of course.

    Can't wait to see the first people hauled away off the back of this fishing expedition. Pass the popcorn please.

  15. TkH11


    If the kids are smart enough to push the panic button - which by implication means they understand that some dodgy geezer is talking to them in an inappropriate way - then the kids are smart enough to tell their parents.

    "Mummy, some man is saying strange things to me...mwwaaaahhhh".

    In which case the CEOP button isn't necessary. Far better to then let the parent review the messages, the dialoge and decide what to do. Parental responsibiltiy, control is what matters here.

    What gets me about this sort of thing is Gamble's arrogance.

    "We'll get what we want from you otherwise we'll resort to claiming you're the site of choice for paedophiles, bullies..".

    Disgusting tactics.

  16. yoinkster


    I've been using MSN for years and years yet have never once seen a PanicHere button, anyone care to enlighten me?

  17. Anonymous Coward

    "Stranger Danger" still applies online

    Softly softly approach is utter bollocks! Kids are a lot tougher and they see through BS like no other sometimes.

    When my parents wanted me to be aware of stranger danger, no messing about, "If you go off with strangers, they may take you away and we will never see you again. So don't talk to strangers! And NEVER go with them no matter what!", scared the life out of me aged 6, but made me think twice and be careful when I was out and about.

    Recently my little ones brought home a Micorsoft/CEOP sponsored story from junior school. Story about some under sea creatures being cajoled into handing over their info to an octopus in exchange for the promise of free stuff! It was so vague as to be useless! Just make an effort to talk to your kids, explain to them that if they hand over details or talk with people, these people could be sneaky and could be on the make. So be very careful, as they are strangers and should be treated just like strangers you meet when you're out and about.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      still doesn't change

      that they are far more at risk from people they know well and that their parents trust.

      Rather than some random stranger in the street or met on facebook, if they do end up getting abused, it's much more likely to be a neighbour or uncle, or other adult, well known and trusted by the parents and child alike.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Stranger Danger" still applies online

      "Recently my little ones brought home a Micorsoft/CEOP sponsored story from junior school. Story about some under sea creatures being cajoled into handing over their info to an octopus in exchange for the promise of free stuff!"

      Actually I think you'll find that was their maths homework.

      1. Gaz Jay

        Sounds more like

        "Recently my little ones brought home a Micorsoft/CEOP sponsored story from junior school. Story about some under sea creatures being cajoled into handing over their info to an octopus in exchange for the promise of free stuff!"

        Sounds more like Anti-Apple Propaganda to me.

  18. AC-This-Isn't-Facebook

    Title Required

    Surely the title for this article should in fact be "Child protection campaigners claim hollow victory over Facebook.. bitch"

  19. Lamont Cranston

    Once again,

    I am dissapointed by this little fella's failure to make an appearance, at any point:

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Lamont Cranston

      That would be an amusing logo. I have in mind another one.

      If you go down in the woods today you'd better go in disguise.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Which version?

        And is Goldilocks getting more than porridge?

  20. Number6

    Nanny State - so last year

    Perhaps we need a bit of parental responsibility and education instead of silly buttons that just go to boost the egos of vested interests and add no practical value.

    The state has demonstrated that it puts its own interests above yours, so learn to care for yourself and your family and don't expect them to do it for you.

  21. Doshu

    Ridiculous waste

    They wasted time and resources that could have been spent doing something genuinely useful -- 'cause jokes aside, i do think that kids' safety on the net IS important -- and what did they get for it?

    Bad publicity and an optional button that no one will ever install.

    Nice. *claps* Good job.

    I wonder what their next windmill's gonna be.

  22. mmiied

    panic button?

    I have msn open can somone tell me where this panic button is?

    (oh w8 I have found it it was inbetween "find singles in your area" and "buy emoticons" I had assumed it was an advert)

  23. Arweet

    hurray! the world is saved!

    Parents all over the UK can finally sleep at night.

    Because now there is the Faceboock-Predator-Hysteria-Button (TM)

    Their children can now simply click away online dangers.

    And the parents are absolved of the burden of learning how all that fancy schmansy Facebook technology works, and of the responsibility to educate their childen about basic internet skills.

  24. Andy Enderby 1

    Sod this kiddy protection button.....

    ..... I want a widget added to facebook profiles that bars access tounder 18's altogether, thereby eliminating risk to the underage themselves, and the risk of "textspeak" suddenly appearing on my page, allowing the grown-ups to talk without interruption from the ankle biters.

    Getting away from humour for moment though.... As has been pointed out, those kids that have come a cropper with Facebook have primarily done so because of their own failure to panic when the going got weird. If I'm correct at least one of those kids was using facebook under their own account, despite being below the minimum age in the FB T's and C's......

    I think those parents that use internet and entertainment media as surrogate parents really need to have good long think about the "protection" this button offers......

  25. JimmyPage Silver badge

    New icon ?

    can't we have a new icon for "self serving publicity seeking power crazed numpty" ?

  26. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    This CEOP button icon could get hacked.

    Imagine the nightmare scenario as *millions* of FB pages have their re-assuring CEOP button swapped for an image of.......

    A cartoon man (thinning hair, old raincoat, stained boots) or (worse yet) a set of male danggly bits.

    Children traumatized and in need of years of counseling.

    Panic in the streets! The end of civilisation as we know it! Run for your lives!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      there is only 1 image it could be



      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up




    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Title Required

      Or perhaps even Herbert from Family Guy!

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The irony...

    Gamble: Hey Facebook, why don't you support our cause and install this awsome new app we've made?

    Facebook: But that would require a major redesign. There is little evidence that such measures work. Alternatively we could...

    Gamble: Shut up, Facebook and do as I say.

    Facebook: Ok, we can look into it...

    Gamble: No, Facebook, I demand that you install my app NOW.

    Facebook: Oh all right then. But you'll have to use our API and adhere to our policies.

    Gamble: You arrogant #*@#!

  28. Len Mackin
    Thumb Down

    Utter nonesense

    Father of two girls here both now grown up but had full access to the internet since 1996. They used to tell me if any perves tried to chat to them they just 'banned them'. This was the days long before we had CEOPs etc.

    Let the kids manage themselves, they can do this very well from what I hear. This is yet another job creation measure and isnt useful at all to anyone.

    CEOPs have to look like they are doing something, the police must look like they are doing something (usually standing in the street with big guns and Oakley sunglasses trying desperately to look cool), everyone has to look as if they are doing something.

    pathetic really.

    nuff said

  29. Len Mackin

    following on from my earlier post

    I forgot to say - I hope the useage statistics for the button, including how many actually install it, are released to the press in six months time!

    1. Mike Hanna

      Doubt it

      That would be good. Can we also have stats on

      - How many times was it used which led to police intervention

      - How many times it led to prosecution

      - How many times the button was abused (though not THAT type of abuse else we'd need a button for the buttons)

      Doubt we'll get any of that info. If it's been on MSN, perhaps that information is available.

      Bunch of knee jerk tw@ts

  30. cannon
    Big Brother


    wicked lets get clicking gonna click every one i know!

    more sensationalism to keep us afraid and accept interference from the Orwellian police state in the name of [s]terrorism, pirates[/s], opps paedophiles!

    this role is down to parents not the state, please ppl stop walking into this nightmare by conditioning our children to think its ok...

  31. Valerion

    What happens when it's pressed?

    a) Sod all

    b) SWAT team coming through the window?

    Can't see anyone pressing it for a laugh at all.

    1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
      Big Brother

      you cant?

      You've never met some of the 12-16 yr olds round here then

      But all this could be solved with a simple solution

      "Under 18's Facebook" and "facebook for the rest of us"

      But then since I only use facebook to kill people and pull off huge crimes, with occassional messages to old friends I guess I dont care

      BB because one day , everyone will be watched .... especially you there Smith 34522 Winston... get those knees up"

  32. heyrick Silver badge

    It has been said so many times before...

    ...for the panic button concept to work, the child will need to know that something is wrong, and a good number of times the children do not realise until it is way too late. Until then, perhaps they are glad of a little bit of attention, somebody taking them seriously as a person, perhaps able to talk with about things they don't feel able to discuss with their parents.

    Some degree of grooming was going on at my old school until the cops stamped on it. The reaction from the parents was, generally, utter horror. By contrast, the reactions from some of the kids involved was more akin to "he was the only one that made me feel good about myself".

    Tell me how a panic button is going to be any use whatsoever...

  33. Mr Bear
    Big Brother

    But think about the adults!!!!!!

    Can we sue CEOP if some child accidentally clicks on the PANIC!!!! button and then we lose our jobs because it turns up on the CRB Rumour sheet?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And what's gonna happen

    when disgruntled teens discover it has got a whole lot easier to initiate a false or exaggerated accusation against someone they don't like.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Let's keep this "threat" in perspective

    Number of children lured to meeting a stranger through the internet. and molested. Fairly small

    Number molested by parents/close relatives/family friends. Lots.

    Will this actually save any one?

    time will tell.

  36. mark l 2 Silver badge


    Since more and more kids access msn, and facebook from their mobiles, then surely the app wont even show in that situation., assuming they even bother installing it, which they wont.

    I have to say i chat to some friends on msn and hadn't noticed the ceop button until i specifically went looking for it as its hidden amongst all the adverts at the bottom so i bet its hardly ever used unless its click on by mistake.

  37. Peter 8

    And how will the button change anything?

    So supposedly this is being brought in due to the murder of a 17 year old girl who met her murderer on Facebook.

    Now let's say we could go back in time and put this panic button on Ashleigh Hall's facebook page... How exactly would that have prevented her murder?

    Would it have stopped her from meeting up with the guy who became her murderer?

    Given they were meeting up in secret, I don't think it's likely that she would have clicked the button herself.

    Was the button gonna jump off the screen and come to her aid?

    Oh and apparently she spoke to this person on MSN. And they might even have called or texted each other.

    So we should have panic buttons for both of those too... since buttons, electronic or otherwise, have always been the things that prevented crime.

    From where I sit, this button will do a whole lot of nothing... unlike educating young people about managing risk and how to mitigate your risk... like meeting someone for the first time in a public place... preferably with some friends around. *That* would likely have prevented her murder.

    Now in the Telegraph article it states "“It's not Ashleigh's fault what happened. All we can do as parents is try to and get across to them that there are two sides to the internet.”

    I vehemently disagree. She wasn't exactly doing something smart my meeting a total stranger in secret and somewhere private. She absolutely bore *some* responsibility in regard to her fate.

    And anyone who thinks a button on a web page would have made a whit of a difference needs to get a clue.

    If Jim Gamble truly believes that this button will do more than just be political window dressing that will achieve nothing, then he is definitely one of the more clueless people out there.

  38. Neoc

    Am I the only one...

    ...who read this and went: if a kid is worried enough to click the "ClickCEOP" button, then they don't need the damn button in the first place - they know enough already. And for the others, having the button won't help them.

  39. Kabi
    Thumb Down

    Children on Facebook

    According to T&C "You will not use Facebook if you are under 13." Therefore I would question the parents first how the hell and why their children are signed up, and as a parent they should ensure at least at home, they have the appropriate settings set up on the web browsers. Seems like a trend from now days parenting, they blame on everyone else when their little one is come across something "disturbing".

    Wake up people and start looking in your own dump first.

  40. Spleen


    The only way CEOP's campaign will ever end is if Facebook puts a giant scrolling banner on every page which reads 'JIM GAMBLE JIM GAMBLE JIM GAMBLE JIM GAMBLE JIM GAMBLE', preferably flashing in red. I'd heard of the 'oxygen of publicity' but didn't realise the extent to which some people depend on it to live.

    If there is anyone out there still naive enough to believe that there is a difference between this government and the last one, all you need is seven words: "Jim Gamble - Suzi Leather - Martha Lane Fox". Months after the supposed regime change, they all still have jobs.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm being abused

    Every time I've logged onto facebook for the past 3 days there's been an advert telling me that I need CEOP (even though I'm not a child), and when I tell facebook the advert is uninteresting it just re-loads and I'm back to square one.

    I need to tell someone about this abuse, but CEOP wouldn't seem to be the right people.

  42. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    But it makes Jimbo feel *so* good.

    That is all.

    The excuse for this was a girl murdered by a guy pretending to be a teenager.

    Teach kids on the internet "Things are *not* what they seem. People tell fibs, exaggerate and generally cannot be trusted without some kind of proof."

    Get this. If you're an adult who uses the Internet and does not understand even *vaguely* what can happen prepare for pain. EG Friend having laptop trouble goes to shop saying they don't have AV. Shop muppet "You only go on a few big sites, you don't *need* AV for that." (No that is what was said to a friend of mine in a major PC retailer. My comment was 2 words long. The second was "wit".

    If you're a *parent* who knows their children have net access and that's all, prepare for *lots* of pain.

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