The co-founder of Ask.fm has denied claims that the social networking website is causing a rise in cyber bulling in Ireland.
Last Saturday, Donegal teenager Erin Gallagher was found dead at her family home, a day after posting on Ask.fm that was was being bullied. In September, 13-year-old Ciara Pugsley from Co, Leitrim, also took her own life, amid claims she had been bullied on the site.
When asked about the deaths of the two Irish teenagers, Ask.fm co-founder Mark Terebin said his website was not the issue.
"Mass media is knocking on wrong door. It is necessary to go deeper and to find a root of a problem. Its not about the site, the problem is about education, about moral values that were devaluated [sic] lately."
The website owner, described Ask.fm as “just a tool which helps people to communicate with each other, same as any other social network, same as phone, same as piece of paper and pen”.
He added: “Don’t blame a tool, but try to make changes… start with yourself… be more polite, more kind, more tolerant of others… cultivate these values in families, in schools.Suicide is not something to encourage via mass media. The more you promote suicide, the more it happen.”
Regarding the media's coverage of online bullying he wrote: "Do you think mass media cares? They want scandals, they want sensations and finally they want money. Sorry, but we do not want to participate in it. What happened is a true tragedy and we give our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and relatives."
Ireland's minister for children, Frances Fitzgerald said she intends to ask Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Eamon Gilmore to request that Latvian authorities investigate the safety standards used by Ask.fm.
Minister Fitzgerald said that the website is of great concern to her.
"Obviously I'm very worried because if you have a site that doesn't have the kind of safeguards, for example, that Facebook have, and doesn't block and where you don't have a name policy, I'm obviously very concerned about it," she said.
“I'm going to be asking Eamon Gilmore to take up with his Latvian counterparts why this site, ask.fm, can be registered there and you know, who's using it for advertising.”
She added: "So it's really important that parents and schools and communities understand that there are differences in the sites."
With celebrities also chiming in on the debate, One Direction's Niall Horan called for fans to take action against cyber bullies.
"I hate the thought that any of our fans would be subjected to bullying online," he told the Irish Sun.
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