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Facebook Sets Predator Safeguards

The Summary

Facebook will be adopting new methods that would safeguard its users. Particularly, children will be guarded from online predators such as pedophiles and exposure to inappropriate content marking a new age in providing safety of Internet usage.

Opinion

The improvements that Facebook will be adopting will help ensure the safety of the Internet. Children who make use of the Internet as a form of socialization will face lesser risks of encountering people that would probably try to get personal information and pictures which could lead to abuse. The banning of convicted sex offenders from the site may be a form of discrimination but it is nonetheless a good step which could limit possible sexual attacks on children considering the fact that the Internet has become an almost essential tool in socialization.

Other social networking sites should adopt similar measures to ensure the safety of their users. Since there is a growing concern over the different effects of the media, particularly the Internet, such improvements would enhance security and would even increase the usage of the web service because it will be a whole lot safer and easier to market.

Since the boom of Information Technology, the Internet has been a great tool for learning and sharing information but just like anything else in the world, it is also being abused and being used as another medium for committing crime. It is only necessary that website content providers ensure the safety of their clients just like the way car manufacturers ensure the safety of their client by equipping the vehicles that they produce with certain safety measures.

Facebook Sets Predator Safeguards

By AP/Stephanie Reitz

(HARTFORD, Conn.) — Facebook, the world’s second-largest social networking Web site, will add more than 40 new safeguards to protect young users from sexual predators and cyberbullies, attorneys general from several states said Thursday.

The changes include banning convicted sex offenders from the site, limiting older users’ ability to search online for subscribers under 18 and building a task force seeking ways to better verify users’ ages and identities.

“The agreement marks another watershed step toward social networking safety, protecting kids from online predators and inappropriate content,” said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who announced the agreement Thursday with his counterparts in several other states.

Officials from Washington, D.C., and 49 states have signed on.

“Building a safe and trusted online experience has been part of Facebook from its outset,” said Chris Kelly, Facebook’s chief privacy officer. “The attorneys general have shown great leadership in helping to address the critical issue of Internet safety, and we commend them for continuing to set high standards for all players in the online arena.”

Texas has not endorsed this agreement or a similar one reached in January among the other states, the District of Columbia and MySpace. Texas officials have said they want quicker action on verifying users’ ages and identities than the pacts guarantee.

The attorneys general have been negotiating for months with Facebook and MySpace, the world’s largest online social network with 200 million users around the world, for tighter controls.

“Social networks that encourage kids to come to their sites have a responsibility to keep those kids safe,” North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper said. “We’ve now gotten the two largest social networking sites to agree to take significant steps to protect children from predators and pornography.”

Facebook has more than 70 million active users worldwide. Messages seeking comment were left Thursday at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.

MySpace, Facebook and other online networks have created a new venue for sexual predators, who often lie about their age to lure young victims to chat, share images and sometimes meet in person. It also has spawned cyberbullies, who have sent threatening and anonymous messages to other users, sometimes classmates and others they know.

Among other changes, Facebook has agreed to:

  • Ensure companies offering services on its site comply with its safety and privacy guidelines.
  • Keep tobacco and alcohol ads from users too young to purchase those products.
  • Remove groups whose comments or images suggest they involve incest, pedophilia, bullying or other inappropriate content.
  • Send warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an adult.
  • Review users’ profiles when they ask to change their age, ensuring the update is legitimate and not intended to let adults masquerade as children.

The protections included in the MySpace and Facebook pacts could be expanded to smaller services such as Friendster and Bebo, Blumenthal said.

“We’re entering a new era in social networking safety,” Blumenthal said. “This agreement is open-ended in envisioning advances in technology that will permit even stronger steps in the future toward protecting kids’ safety.”

The Summary

The United States has increased the production of biofuels from food in hope of reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil but instead of solving problem, the step seems to have caused another problem which is higher prices and decreased volume of food.

Opinion

Oil supply is a problem for many nations but it seems as if US President George Bush ordered an increase in the production of ethanol which comes from corn, wheat and other food products without weighing the possible consequences. The production of ethanol may have the capacity to decrease reliance on oil-producing countries therefore providing cheaper and more environment-friendly oil but this does not ease the burden on consumers as it also leads to a substantial increase in the costs of some food products such as corn, sugar, flour, etc.

The order to produce more ethanol may have come at a bad time and even appears selfish since the rest of the world is facing extreme food crisis while the US uses its food supply to fuel its dire need for oil. The testimony which says the price of flour has tripled since 2006 is very alarming. Flour is used in the production of bread and it makes of a large amount of the food supply. It would probably be a lot better if food is not being diverted to oil production since not all American have cars and make use of oil or ethanol while all American need food in order to survive.

Even the US now is suffering from a food crisis because of the President’s order. Bush seems to have a tendency of ordering changes without thinking of the consequence as reminiscent of other infamous directives that he has given such as the War on Terror and refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol. The US should be more open to the world and should be less driven by personal and economic gain.

Biofuels backlash in US as food costs hit home

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A biofuels backlash has erupted in major ethanol producer the United States, as lawmakers and experts debate the merits of converting food to fuel to support America’s age-old love affair with the automobile.

With gasoline at record prices at US pumps, and soaring corn, rice and wheat costs sparking a global food crisis this year with deadly riots in several nations, some have questioned the wisdom of President George W. Bush’s call for higher US biofuel mandates that divert US crops, like corn, to fuel production.

“Why are we putting food in our gas tanks instead of our stomachs?” Richard Reinwald, owner of Reinwald’s Bakery in Huntington, New York, asked members of Congress at a hearing last week on skyrocketing food costs.

Biofuels are derived from foodstuffs such as corn, soybeans and sugarcane, and plants like switch grass and their cellulosic waste.

Touted just months ago as an answer to spiking gas prices, biofuels are enduring closer scrutiny by US lawmakers alarmed by the high cost of food staples and how they are sapping millions of American households.

Members of Bush’s own Republican party are turning on him, including Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who called on Congress to undo “America’s ethanol mistake.”

“In recent weeks, the correlation between government biofuel mandates and rapidly rising food prices has become undeniable,” Hutchison said in a statement on her website.

“At a time when the US economy is facing recession, Congress needs to reform its food-to-fuel policies and look at alternatives to strengthen energy security.”

Hutchison is due to introduce legislation to Congress that would freeze biofuel mandates at current levels.

Biofuels are refined to produce fuel similar to those made from petroleum, but their growing use has been cited along with poor harvests due to drought, surging demand in Asia as living standards have risen, higher transport costs and trade restrictions for the rapid rise in food prices.

Joachim von Braun, head of the US-based International Food Policy Research Institute, said a moratorium on biofuels from food grains in 2008 would lower corn prices by 20 percent and wheat prices by 10 percent in 2009 and 2010.

Renowned US economist Jeffrey Sachs has also leveled heavy biofuels criticism.

“What should be abandoned is the use of our current food supplies to turn them into ethanol, especially in the United States,” Sachs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, calling the food-to-fuel program “a lousy bargain.” In December Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act, which calls for a six-fold increase in the use of ethanol, to 36 billion gallons (136 billion liters) per year by 2022.

The United States is the world’s top producer of corn-based ethanol, and the Bush administration sees it as a key way to reduce dependence on foreign oil and curb fossil fuel emissions, the main source of man-made global warming.

Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) said “the evidence irrefutably demonstrates that this policy is not delivering on either goal.”

“In fact, it is causing environmental harm and contributing to a growing global food crisis,” Brown wrote in a scathing editorial in the Washington Post.

EPI says the United States burned 25 percent of its corn supply as fuel last year, leading to just a one percent reduction in the country’s oil consumption.

Some scientists warn that biofuels actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, as farmers convert forest and grassland to new cropland to replace or add to grain diverted to biofuels.

“Corn-based ethanol, instead of producing a 20 percent savings, nearly doubles greenhouse emissions over 30 years, and increases greenhouse gases for 167 years,” Timothy Searchinger and other experts wrote in a study published in the journal Science.

Yet scores of American farmers eyeing swelling corn prices have abandoned wheat to grow corn, leading to the lowest US wheat ending stocks in 60 years, according to the US Department of Agriculture, and causing a ripple effect of rising commodity prices.

Reinwald the baker said that in 2006 he paid 17 dollars for a 100-pound (45-kg) bag of bread flour; today it costs 52 dollars — more than three times as much.

 References

Reitz, Stephanie. 8 May 2008. Facebook Sets Predator Safeguards. Time Magazine. Retrieved   May 9, 2008, from http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1738560,00.html

Biofuels backlash in US as food costs hit home.

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Retrieved May 9, 2008, from             http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gFrpSyEZtHxPkpMpUJPDP9-_WYrA

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