Facebook Fighting Predators, Fostering Startups




Facebook, Facebook. A year ago, it seemed we could hardly go a day without some newsworthy tidbit from the sweetheart of the social networking scene. These days, positive headlines—or any at all, since “ink is ink”—are much fewer and further between. But today, Facebook has two reasons to make the news: they’ve endorsed the new KIDS Act from the US federal government and they’re finally disbursing the fbFund for startups.

The Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008 was signed into law on Monday. The new act requires sexual offenders to include email addresses and IM names on the National Sex Offenders Registry. Yesterday, Facebook announced that they will comply with the new federal law, just as they have worked with states’ attorneys general in keeping sexual predators off Facebook.

As Chris Kelly pointed out in the company’s blog post on the KIDS Act, the old system was deficient:

Unfortunately, we both consistently find that [the state] registries lack the essential email and IM data for comprehensive and rapid screening. The process is also less efficient and less effective than anyone, especially concerned parents, would like, which is why we’re such ardent supporters of the KIDS Act Registry.

Also in the news today is Facebook’s funding of developer startups. fbFund is a $10 million fund for apps developers that started last year. When it began in July 2007, the fund was supposed to use a “fast-track approval process.” However, no money had been announced until now.

Today, Facebook announced the 25 recipients of $25,000 each. They’ll receive the money to work on their original, meaningful social apps on Facebook and throughout the Internet on Facebook connect.

The winners:
• BarTab • BlackDrumm • Bottle Rocket • Check My Campus • Daikon • Faithfeed • Good Call Sports • GroupCard • Kontagent • Koofers • Mousehunt • Newsbrane • PartyBuzz • Pongr • ProfessionalProfile • RealGifts • Social Arcade • Socialfly • Teach the People • Thankster • TrailBehind • Twenty20 Cricket • vDream Racing • Weddingbook • Wildfire

Five of these startups will receive an additional $225,000 at the end of the second round of the competition. To qualify, over the next few weeks the startups must:

build and submit their final applications and create a video showcasing their work, which will be found on the fbFund competition page. As round two kicks off, users will have the chance to try these applications, watch the videos and vote for their favorites. Final judging of round two will factor in user voting, as well as input from Facebook, Accel Partners and Founders Fund.

The winners will be announced in December.

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  • http://www.critest.com Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield

    My reply to ‘Chris':

    *****

    You, sir, are a disgrace.

    At least the politicians are only doing it for political gain, you are doing it, simply, for money.

    How many RSOs have been found guilty of these heinous accusations?

    How many non-RSOs?

    How many adults?

    How many minors?

    It would not be so bad, if this draconian, fascist process actually worked.

    All the published research and media reports show it will not – not one bit. In fact, it provides a dangerous, false sense of security.

    You are an example of the worse face of the internet.

    A private company, suppressing free speech and social networking, based on a false and dangerous premise.

    $$$$ is the all that matters, eh?

    Yours,

    Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield

    ***

    NLO

  • Jordan McCollum

    You might want to direct your response to Mr. Kelly in a forum where he might actually see it.

  • http://www.critest.com Dr Nigel Leigh Oldfield

    I have.

    But I doubt that he will post it.

    NLO

  • http://thisismyurl.com Christopher Ross

    This is more great news from Facebook, I’m glad to see they’re taking responsibility for their users.

    Christopher Ross’s last blog post..Winter Wonderland Flash Animation Contest

  • John Doe

    This law will not do anything because it is UNCONSTITUTIONAL and will suffer the same fate as the State of Utah’s version of the law. Check the below stories and Court Order by a Federal Judge addressing the First Amendment rights of sex offenders…

    http://www.sltrib.com/News/ci_10592897

    http://www.4shared.com/dir/9534755/19d8052b/sharing.html

  • http://www.downloadic.com Downloadic

    I wish my name was in the list of 25 recipients :)

  • http://www.techinfodigest.com Dave Taylor

    The Keep the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators (KIDS) Act passed by the legislature is a great 1st step in protecting kids but it is no substitute for parents taking firm and proactive steps to protect their own children. The KIDS act is only going to be as effective as the perverts who may or may not follow its rules. These predators, these twisted law breakers, will simply assume new private identities. We know this because most likely they used fake identities BEFORE they were arrested. Don’t think the government can protect our children – We have to do it ourselves.

    I installed Spector Pro from Spectorsoft.com after seeing their Editors’ Choice review in PC Magazine. Within a day I started seeing bad stuff. As a parent of two teenagers I was simply amazed by what I saw. My son was doing things (visiting sick sites) I didn’t even think he was capable of and my daughter was constantly being stalked on MySpace. I immediately used Spector to block risky site categories (like Adult), restrict when they both could go online (vs. just doing their homework) and I blocked some of the rude (boys, girls and maybe adult men) who she was chatting with. Monitoring rocks. I see every chat, every search they do, every email, websites they visit and even screen shots. It’s not big brother or trust issue to me. These are good kids and I saw what they were doing online. This is vital protection for our most important assets – our children.

  • joe dongle

    Dave taylor,
    your sick and your words look like an advertisement. Sure it is within peoples right to protect their children from predators, but taking away peoples rights, especially rights that are protected under our constitution is a crime against america and what it stands for. You are basically telling these people that they are no longer people and that they are animals. Mabe some people do deserve punishment, but not all people are like that. People that support this law are terrorists against america and they should be put in jail.

  • Jordan McCollum

    All right, I’ve let this stand long enough.

    There is no constitutional right to use Facebook.

    Or, if you want to play Devil’s Advocate, Facebook is doing these people a favor, since if they ever again were arrested on a related charge, every communication they ever sent, every photo they uploaded and viewed, every person they tried to friend, would be subpoenaed as evidence to be used against them. We have the freedom of speech from the First Amendment, but people tend to think that that right comes without responsibilities.

    The First Amendment is written to keep the government from taking away our rights to peaceably assemble, voice political opposition, etc. Facebook, as a private company, has the right to deny anyone access its service without damaging their civil liberties.

    On the other hand, when people commit certain crimes, we do limit their civil liberties—putting someone in prison limits their freedom rather severely, but that is the punishment our society has accepted to redress wrongs against individuals and society at large. These punishments may extend beyond incarceration as well—felons may forfeit the right to vote even after release, for example.

    This particular law should be prospective, meaning that it applies to future actions; public; constructed and applied generally, ie not discriminatory against race, religion, etc.—categories that we don’t have control over, as opposed to categories we do, such as driving an 18-wheeler (they have different speed limits in some areas) or . . . say . . . committing a felony; and written with the consent of the people, which we gave when we elected the officials writing the law. If it meets all of these criteria, then it is our decision whether or not we want to invoke the consequences of breaking the law.

    I am deeply disappointed that we’ve degenerated so far that protecting convicted violent felons’ “right” to use Facebook is supposed to be protected by the Constitution. It’s time we stop thinking in terms of manufacturing new rights and start thinking about the responsibilities we’ve already neglected from the rights we legitimately have.