Following Bebo’s introduction of a “help” button, which puts users in touch with a police helpline, social networking site Facebook has today announced plans for a button which will summon a police Armed Response Unit to any user’s address.
The move, described by critics as “a bit much”, aims to curb the growing number of internet abuse cases.
A 24-hour trial run of the scheme in Alabama last week was hailed as an unmitigated success by Adamsville Chief of Police Robert Carter.
“I’m hailing this as an unmitigated success — and you can quote me on that,” Mr Carter told journalists who were quoting him outside the Adamsville Police Department Headquarters yesterday.
“Within the first 10 minutes of the system going online, we had over 400 armed response requests, and although approximately 98% of those were practical jokes, the genuine calls resulted in the arrest of five people who might have been about to be stalkers, someone’s uncle who had had too much to drink, and that funny-looking guy who lives across the street from the Hendersons’ place. There were almost no fatalities as a result of these arrests,” he added.
Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg voiced his satisfaction with the scheme earlier today, and reminded Facebook Mobile users that they will also be able to take advantage of the service.
“GPS data will be relayed to the nearest police station, and used to direct armed back-up to their location,” the billionaire entrepreneur said. “Then it’s just up to the user to point out whoever’s harrassing them, and the heavily-armed cops will handle the rest. This is going to make a huge difference to young, vulnerable people who feel unsafe on the streets.”
When asked about the potential dangers of the scheme, Mr Zuckerberg was quick to dismiss critics’ claims that the system would lead to widespread carnage, with bands of gun-toting policemen roaming the streets, gunning down anyone who looks a bit shifty at the behest of panicky teens.
“These concerns are utterly unfounded,” Mr Zuckerberg said. “Obviously we have protocols to prevent that kind of thing happening. Anyone placing an armed response call has to undergo a security check: they have to correctly identify a couple of words written in wobbly, blurry letters before the officers are allowed to open fire.”
At the time of writing, reports that MySpace plans to introduce a button that calls out the SAS to orchestrate an counter-terrorism raid have yet to be confirmed.