A controversial computer game which let members of the social networking site Facebook "virtually knife" one another has been removed from the site.
Shank could be added by any Facebook member and appeared in the user's profile as a small knife with a black blade. Once installed as part of the Superpoke! application - which is typically used to send virtual greetings such as hugs and kisses - it allowed users to "shank" their friends.
In a statement this morning, Facebook said that the application had been removed from the site. The program had been made available by Slide, a third-party software developer which had decided to remove the feature from Superpoke!, Facebook said.
Anti-knife crime campaigners condemned the application, details of which emerged barely a week after the British Crime Survey found that more than 350 knife crime offences were being committed in the country every day. In London, 21 teenagers have been killed this year - the majority the victims of stabbings.
"The stupidity of having this on their site is unbelievable," said John Knox, whose nephew, the Harry Potter actor Rob Knox, was killed in a knife attack after intervening in a dispute about a mobile phone. "And they deliberately use the street term 'shanked', which is even worse. They are targeting the kids who are on street corners carrying knives."
Raymond Stevenson, a spokesman for the London-based anti knife crime campaign Urban Conceps told The Sun that the application was "appalling".
Facebook members are able to choose from thousands of free applications which they can download and add to their profiles. The majority are written by third-party developers who upload their programs to Facebook's platform in the hope that they will become popular with users.
Any developer can write an application for Facebook, which now has 80 million active users, though the site reserves the right to remove "malicious or harmful" applications. It was not clear today whether Facebook had pressed Slide, a San Francisco-based company, to remove the application.
A spokesman for Slide was not immediately available for comment.
About 235,000 people have downloaded the Superpoke! application, and have used it to send more than 1 billion 'virtual messages' to their friends, according to Slide.