As Facebook nears 1 billion users, the company is taking some much-needed steps to protect its members’ privacy and security.

Facebook has partnered with Microsoft, McAfee, TrendMicro, Sophos, and Symantec in an effort to protect against malicious URLs, spam, phishing, and viruses.

The malicious URL database from these security organizations will be incorporated into Facebook’s URL blacklist system, which scans trillions of clicks per day. This is where a site that has been reported as “abusive” or “spammy” might end up.

Facebook also introduced the Antivirus (or AV) Marketplace, where you can download a six-month license for a full version of anti-virus software, free of change, from one of the partners mentioned above. The AV Marketplace can be accessed within the Facebook Security section of the site.

“We believe that arming our users with anti-virus software will help empower them to stay safe no matter where they are on the web,” said the company in today’s blog post.

This partnership is especially important if you rely on Facebook as part of your social media strategy. The site has been home to many phishing scams that can compromise a number of your fans’ accounts, as well as yours. If your Page were to suddenly start publishing spam updates, your reputation could take a hard hit.

The social network has continuously come under fire regarding its efforts to protect its members. Facebook’s new partnership is a move in the right direction, and should help to improve user experience across the platform. You can find more information about Facebook’s security efforts on the Facebook Security Page.

[Image credit: marc falardeau]