The attorneys general of 49 states and the District of Columbia today announced that Facebook has agreed to changes to better protect children from predators and inappropriate content and to participate in a task force on implementation of age and identity verification software.

The agreement (PDF) is similar to one that MySpace reached in January with 49 states and the District of Columbia. MySpace agreed to head a task force, which Facebook has joined, to explore and develop age and identity identification tools for social networking sites.

"As with MySpace, I am concerned that young people communicating through Facebook run into risks of having contact with sexual predators roaming the Internet looking to meet children, teens and others," said Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. "Many Facebook users are children who are simply too trusting and sometimes too free with the information they make available on their Facebook pages.

Changes agreed to by Facebook include providing automatic warning messages when a child is in danger of giving personal information to an unknown adult; restricting the ability of users to change their listed ages; acting more aggressively to remove inappropriate content and groups from the site and requiring third party vendors to adhere to Facebook's safety and privacy guidelines.

"Facebook and MySpace are showing how to aim higher and keep kids safer. Our ultimate goal is age and identity verification technology -- safeguards against child molesters and inappropriate material. Checking ages and identities is vital to better shielding underage users from predators and pornography," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said.

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Gina M. Scott  |  Writer