Trusted friend Facebook option to help cut bullying

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Trusted friend options offers outlet for abused Facebook users

A new option installed by social media website Facebook allows its users to inform trusted friends of any threatening or violent treatment they receive online.

The feature, called Trusted Friend, has been designed for younger users, as it encourages them to install authority figures such as parents or teachers as their confidante should an incident occur.

A few simple clicks allow Facebook browsers to report behaviours to the chosen party, rather than resort to contacting the website itself or the police. Facebook's director of European policy Richard Allan believes that the project could help to merge the online and offline actions.

He said: "Often the best way of sorting offensive content is for friends to flag those things to each other. In the real world you have a sense of when you need to escalate something to the right organisation. If someone is calling you names, it might not be appropriate to go directly to the police."

Facebook tastelessness

The new option comes after an Australian woman last year received a three-month suspended sentence for pleading guilty to charges of Facebook harassment.

Jessica Cook, 22, left hateful remarks and images on a tribute page set up to remember murdered Justine Jones. Cook's lawyer Michael Connolly claimed her behaviour was a product of mental illness, itself caused by bullying, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.