Check how good your Messenger provider is with the recommendations of the UK Government’s Home Office.
These recommendations covered things that the IM providers should do to help keep children safe and here is a check list of some of the main ones:
- Does your Messenger offer ignore or block buttons, so you can stop receiving messages from a particular person if you want to, and are these clear?
- Is there a visible and easy to use way of reporting bad stuff and bad behaviour to the Messenger provider, and information about what sort of things should be reported?
- Does your Messenger provide information about what to do with unwanted messages?
- Are you given the option not to receive incoming messages from people not on your friends/buddy list?
- Is it easy to save or archive messages that you want to report? This is important for evidence.
- Is information provided to you about how to keep safe while using Messenger?
- Is there information about how to contact other organisations that may be able to help you, such as Children’s organisations.
- If there is a profile, is it explained to you that any information entered in here is publicly available and accessible to anyone?
The more 'Yes' answers you have to these questions above, the better your Messenger service is.
In January 2003 the Home Office in the UK published some recommendations for providers of Instant Messenger services. The actual good practice model is available here:
- Good Practice models and guidance for the Internet industry on: Chat Services, Instant Messaging (IM), and Web Based Services (pages 16-20 cover Instant Messenger)