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Facebook Introduces New Tools to Combat Cyberbullying

Facebook is expected to unveil a new set of anti-bullying tools today at the White House Conference for Bullying Prevention in Washington, D.C.

The changes, designed to "create a culture of respect" among Facebook users, are focused on two main areas: a revamped safety center, and a broader array of more social mechanisms for reporting offensive or threatening content. The social network's new safety center will now feature more multimedia resources, including "new educational videos, external resources from renowned experts, downloadable materials for people to share and discuss." The company will also directly solicit teens for their feedback on enhancing the site's safety.

Users will also have more ways to report bullying or offensive content besides simply sending a notification directly to Facebook. If a user feels harassed or offended by content posted by another person, he or she can now choose to send a private message directly to the user, via Facebook's reporting options interface. Should the user choose to report the incident to Facebook, he or she can also include a trusted third-party (e.g., a teacher or parent) as a contact on the report.

Facebook's changes, in part, were spurred by partnerships forged with various LGBT organizations, following last year's tragic spate of suicides. Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said that, following the deaths of Tyler Clementi and Billy Lucas, "[t]here was heightened awareness around LGBT bullying" at the company. "We've certainly talked to our Network of Support and safety advisory board, and they're very excited about these features," Noyes confirmed.

Arturo Bejas, Facebook's director of engineering, adds that the changes were also inspired by the company's desire to open up new avenues of communication and to give victimized teens a network of support that extends beyond the site's safety team. "We take down content that violates our policies, but we also wanted to help people get support from someone in their lives," Bejas told Mashable. "Someone you trust who can help you deal with this in a way that's constructive."

Tags: bullying, CyberBullying, facebook, harassment, safety, security, SocialNetworking, support, teens, top, tyler clementi, TylerClementi, Web