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Formspring.me changes anonymous posting features

Alexis Pilkington was a popular athlete from West

Alexis Pilkington was a popular athlete from West Islip who had already landed a soccer scholarship to college. Photo Credit: AP

Officials at Formspring.me on Friday rolled out several new features on the social-networking Web site including one that allows users to bar any anonymous questions to be posted on their profile page, according to a company spokeswoman.

The announcement came four days after the Web site, which let people ask and answer personal questions anonymously, drew protests from West Islip High School students and some parents. An online movement was launched on Monday to boycott the site after students learned that cruel and insulting comments were posted anonymously on Alexis Pilkington's profile page in the days before the 17-year-old committed suicide.

Alexis' father, Thomas Pilkington, however, said he didn't believe his daughter's online exchanges in the weeks before her death were a factor in her suicide, and said he was conflicted about her friends' focus on the anonymous vitriol.

New users signing on to Formspring.me must choose one of three options: decline any and all anonymous questions; allow all anonymous questions; or only allow anonymous questions from users who are logged in to the system. This feature allows Formspring.me to track and identify abusers, according to the company spokeswoman.

"Our hearts go out to everyone who feels bullied in cyberspace. We don't condone it and we certainly have no place for it on our service. We will work with authorities through proper legal channels to help prosecute any criminal acts involving the misuse of our system," the company said in a written statement.

Investigators from the Suffolk County Police Department are monitoring the postings and indicated that they will take action if any communication is deemed to be of a "criminal nature."

The spokeswoman for Formspring.me said the company is cooperating with the police department.

The fast-growing Web site, which made its debut over last Thanksgiving holiday, has received 50 million unique visitors over the last 30 days, according to the company's president, John Wechsler.

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