Google, Twitter, Others Face Growing Pressure Around Online Safety

Polly Naber thought her 15-year-old daughter Jill was just grappling with the daily stress of school work and cheerleading, but days after the Los Gatos High School freshman took her own life in 2009, the mom came across a shocking discovery.

Her daughter had sent a topless photo of herself to a boy, the image was spread to others and then posted online.

"I was pretty blown out of the water, but all a sudden it started to make sense," she said.

Seven years later, tech firms are under growing pressure from the government, parents and advocacy groups to do more as social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter grow in popularity, mobile phone use skyrockets and the lives of children, teens and adults increasingly become tied to the digital world. Online activity is also becoming more immediate with live video, augmented reality and other innovations creating a tough environment for tech firms dealing with online harassment, terrorism and the dark side of the Internet.

On Tuesday, Silicon Valley tech firms highlighted their efforts around online safety as part of Safer Internet Day, which happens every year and is meant to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones. That same day, President Barack Obama also sent to Congress a $4 trillion budget proposal that includes $19 billion for cybersecurity efforts.

"I think there's a huge amount of responsibility on the tech industry to get this right and most of the major companies have been at this for a while," said Stephen Balkam, founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute. "It's good business. If your customers and users don't trust you, they're unlikely to come back and use your products."

After her daughter's death, Naber teamed up with Yahoo and the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety to create...

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