Erin Gallagher the 13-year-old Donegal girl who committed suicide |
due to online bullies on Ask.fm
Ask.fm, the website implicated in the suicides of at least two Irish schoolgirls who suffered online abuse through its pages, has promised that a series of new safety features will make the website substantially safer for its users.
The site is particularly popular among young Irish adolescents and allows users to submit questions anonymously to other users' profiles.
The sites' founders said that a through safety review has now been completed and that a report functionality, similar to that found on Facebook, will be installed. More staff will also be hired to work as full time moderators to weed out abusive comments.
An extra website will also be created specifically for parents.
The website suffered an advertising backlash in the wake of the suicides, with major clients Vodafone, Laura Ashley, and charity Save the Children all pulling their campaigns from the site.
The site has cooperated in sending the IP addresses of offending messengers to law enforcement but many parents may justifiably fear that the latest series of changes will not go far enough in making the site a secure environment for online peer-to-peer communication.
A concerned parent told the UK Daybreak breakfast show that some schools were already taking the step of sending out text messages to parents advising them to keep their children off the site.
David Smith, the parent of Hannah, who took her life after receiving a torrent of abuse through the website, welcomed the news today; he had previously been an outspoken advocate for enhanced security on Ask.fm and other social networking websites.