Seventeen major Internet companies including MySpace and Facebook have joined in an effort to protect children across the European Union.

Under an agreement signed this week in Luxembourg, the participants will post a ‘Report Abuse’ button on their Web sites giving participants under the age of 18 ‘inappropriate contact or conduct’ by other community members with a single click.

In addition, the online profiles and contact lists of users under the age of 18 will automatically be set to private making it more difficult for predators and abusers to find them and keeping that information out of the reach of search engines.

Pact participants will also step up their measures to keep under-age users from signing up for their services.

It’s also hoped that the new child protection measures will help reduce cyber bullying — a growing problem as young people become more accessible on social networking sites and wireless networks.

The European Commission estimates that at least 42 million EU residents regularly use social media and that number is expected to increase to 107 million by 2012.

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