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Facebook 'hacks' teen safety with Project:Connect

The social network joins the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, and the Family Online Safety Institute in a hackathon to promote responsible social networking.


Facebook is applying its "Hacker Way" to help youngsters be more responsible in the social-networking realm.

On Thursday, the company announced Project:Connect, a partnership between the social network, the MacArthur Foundation, Mozilla, and the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) that's designed to shed light on what it means to participate responsibly in digital environments. Together, the partners will host an all-day hackathon in New York on May 9.

"We need to give youth the tools they need to become engaged and responsible digital citizens," Connie Yowell, director of education at the MacArthur Foundation, said in statement.

The Project:Connect hackathon, which will be judged by a panel of specialists, will dole out cash prizes -- first prize nets $5,000, second $2,000, and third $1,000 -- for top apps or content across three categories: social tools that promote a culture of kindness, social tools that facilitate managing privacy and security, and social tools that encourage Web literacy. Winners will find their tools featured on FOSI's A Platform For Good site.

The partnership is specifically designed to support teens, a demographic that particularly appreciates Facebook-owned Instagram, along with their parents and teachers. The initiative could help Facebook distance itself from the impression that it cares little about member privacy.

The May 9 hackathon is the first in a series of events hosted by the project partners. Facebook said, in a release, that it would participate in additional events, to be held at museums and libraries, that educate teens on responsible digital practices.