55,000 downloads of CEOP ‘panic button’ on Facebook

13 Aug 2010

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has revealed that there have been 55,000+ downloads of its Facebook ‘panic button’ app. It has so far been used 211 times to report suspicious online behaviour.

Facebook has already been at the centre of cases around paedophile rings and murder. Last year the senior police officer in the UK responsible for child protection online, Jim Gamble, who leads the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, warned that officers have seen a significant increase in complaints from parents and children reporting alleged paedophiles, bullies and hackers who are exploiting the site.

Original calls for a panic button had been rejected by Facebook but eventually the social network gave way and the ClickCEOP app was rolled out on 11 July.

So far there have been more than 55,000 downloads of the app, 20,000 people are now getting regular online safety updates on Facebook and 5,000 have accessed help and advice from CEOP via the new app.

A host of child protection groups, organisations and popular fan sites – including Chelsea Football Club, The Football Association, Diana Vickers, the X-Factor, Beatbullying and the NSPCC – have got behind the initiative and are helping spread the word about the new online safety application by adding the application to their profiles or sharing the link to the application with their fans through their Facebook status updates.

The application – which comes in three parts: ‘adding the app’; ‘sharing the badge’; and ‘bookmarking to app’ enables the user to access to the app, share the app with their friends via their newsfeeds and places a visible icon of the app in plain view so that their friends – and others viewing their profile – can see they are protected online.

Use of the panic button

This has lead to an additional 5,000 unique visits from the Facebook environment to CEOP’s help, advice and support pages on a range of online safety issues, which in turn has lead to over 211 reports to CEOP directly who deal with issues concerning grooming and suspicious behaviour online.

From the 5,000+ visits from Facebook into the ClickCEOP landing page, 13pc have gone on to get help about cyberbullying which has subsequently lead to an increase in referrals to the charity Beatbulling and their Cybermentors support programme.

Visits to the ClickCEOP profile in Facebook, since its launch on 12 July, have been in excess of 100,000 and over 20,000 people have ‘liked ClickCEOP’ which means that regular status updates will appear in their newsfeeds, keeping users up to speed with online safety advice and information including access to CEOP’s first ‘Online Safety Surgery’ held online, within the wall, on Wednesday 21 July.

The Surgery, hosted by a ClickCEOP Advisor, was aimed specifically for parents who had concerns about how to keep their child safe online over the summer holidays and generated over 200 comments and discussion threads within one hour.

“The response to this campaign has been excellent so far,” said Jim Gamble, chief executive of the CEOP Centre.

“The sheer numbers of people who have engaged with the app – including the volume of positive comments received via the wall – has shown that this move as been extremely well received by parents and young people alike.

“We are grateful to all those who have downloaded the app and shared the app with their online networks – and similarly grateful for the support of all our partners and the virtual ‘army’ of tens of thousands of CEOP volunteers who are sharing the CickCEOP app with young people at their schools, youth groups and online networks. Together we really can make a difference to the safety of young people online,” Gamble said.

The ClickCEOP application can be accessed at: http://applications.facebook.com/clickceop

“It is promising to see that the app has had such a clear impact within a relatively short space of time.” said Emma-Jane Cross, CEO, Beatbullying. “In addition to the impressive download figures, Beatbullying has seen an uplift in the amount of young people seeking help from us in dealing with cyber bullying.

“This is vital, as we know that where we are able to educate, as we do via our in-school programmes and our CyberMentors peer mentoring site, and intervene early, young people can be protected from bullying both offline and online.

In the four weeks prior to the ClickCEOP application launch on Facebook on 11 July saw 28 reports from the Facebook safety pages

“It’s great news that so many users have interacted with ClickCEOP by downloading the application or by liking their Page,” Joanna Shields, Facebook’s vice-president for EMEA, said.

“There is no single answer to making the internet safer but CEOP have taken a great step forward by setting up their ClickCEOP page. It now means that they can have an ongoing dialogue with thousands of Facebook users, educating them about how to stay safe online in a place and language they are familiar with. I look forward to continuing our successful relationship with CEOP,” Shields said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years