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4/19/2011
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Facebook Strengthens Security, Safety Tools

To address ongoing concerns about safe social networking, Facebook is rolling out additional security tools and resources.

Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business
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Slideshow: Top 15 Facebook Apps For Business
Following up on its promise to enhance online safety at the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention in March, Facebook on Tuesday launched a revamped version of its Family Safety Center. In addition, it enhanced a recently introduced tool for community policing and fortified its login security options.

The Family Safety Center provides information in the form of articles and videos to help parents and teens understand online safety and privacy. It also includes a section for teachers and a primer on how Facebook responds to lawful demands for information.

The Family Safety Center, however, doesn't address the fact that many parents routinely ignore Facebook's rules and allow children younger than 13 to maintain Facebook accounts.

The resources Facebook is providing to help users understand how to recognize and respond to online bullying are complemented by the site's social reporting tool. Facebook introduced its reporting mechanism in March. It allows users to report photos to Facebook and community members that are deemed to be harmful or harassing. It also enables actions like blocking communication from the person posting the objectionable material.

As of Tuesday, the social reporting tool is being expanded to cover other areas of Facebook, specifically Profiles, Pages, and Groups.

Facebook is also rolling out a form of two-factor authentication. Facebook users can now select check boxes on their Settings/Account Security page to send an email and/or send a text message when a new computer or mobile device logs in to their account. Google recently introduced something similar, though it requires devices to be reauthenticated after 30 days.

And in an effort to make social networking less prone to network data interception, Facebook has improved its HTTPS implementation so that if a user begins using an unencrypted HTTP application on Facebook, he or she will be returned to HTTPS after leaving that application (assuming HTTPS was enabled initially). This won't make HTTP sessions more secure but it will minimize the likelihood of beginning a secure session and inadvertently slipping out of it.

While many Facebook users welcomed the change, a number of them commenting on the announcement urged Facebook do more and enable HTTPS for everyone by default.

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