The attorneys general from Washington D.C. and 49 states have negotiated a deal with Facebook to establish new safety and privacy regulations protecting under-18 users from sexual predators and cyberbullies.   Facebook has agreed

to implement more than 40 new safety measures to protect young users of its popular social networking site from sexual predators and cyberbullies.   Earlier this year, a similar agreement was made between the same 49 states and MySpace.    In both cases, Texas held out saying the pacts don’t guarantee fast enough turn around for verifying 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. "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." Among other modifications, Facebook agrees to: • Require companies offering services — called “widgets” or applications — to implement and enforce Facebook’s safety and privacy guidelines • Review and scrutinize requests by a user to change his or her age. Requests to change profile ages will be logged, and Facebook will grant only a single request to change an age above or below 18. • Maintain and continuously update a list of pornographic websites and regularly sever any links to such sites • Increase efforts to remove groups for incest, pedophilia, cyberbullying and other violations of the site’s terms of services and expel from the site individual violators of those terms   MySpace, Facebook and other sites are often prowled by sexual predators that lie about their age in search of underage victims. Cyberbullies, also, have used social networking sites to threaten users who are often people they know in real life.   According to Blumenthal, smaller social networking sites, such as Friendster and Bebo, will probably implement similar protection measures included in the MySpace and Facebook deals.   By Kathleen Clark   FEEDBACK For comments on this article, email us at editorial@atelier-us.com