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Congress / TECHNOLOGY

Facebook Fetes Congress, Staff

September 15, 2011

Facebook feted lawmakers, congressional aides, and other tech stakeholders at a Capitol Hill reception Wednesday evening as it promoted its efforts to protect teens online.

The social networking service attracted a decent congressional turnout including Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., Senate Commerce Consumer Protection Subcommittee Chairman Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., who heads the Energy and Commerce panel with jurisdiction over consumer privacy, and Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., who authored a federal law dealing with children's privacy online known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

Congressional aides spotted at the event included Matthew Hussey, a telecom and technology aide to Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Vince Morris, spokesman for Senate Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.

At the event coinciding with the start of school, Facebook Associate General Counsel Chris Sonderby outlined some of the steps his company has taken to ensure children, who must be at least 13 to use Facebook, safely use it. These include measures to reduce bullying online and to identify teens who might be considering suicide.

Facebook has been criticized for not doing enough to ensure children under 13 are not logging on. Consumer Reports released a study earlier this year that found that 7.5 million elementary-aged children were on Facebook. During a hearing in May, Rockefeller called on Facebook to do more to prevent this.

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