The mother of Erin and Shannon Gallagher has called for the controversial website Ask.fm to be shut down. Her daughters, aged 13 and 15, committed suicide last year.
Lorraine Gallagher, from Donegal, spoke to Channel 4 News following the recent death of 14-year-old Hannah Smith in Britain. The teenager was found dead on August 2. She committed suicide due to bullying on Ask.fm.
Erin Gallagher hung herself in the family home last October. She also left a note saying she could not take it anymore, and mentioned Ask.fm. Shortly afterward Gallagher’s other daughter, Shannon, took her life.
David Smith, Hannah’s father, asked the British Prime Minister David Cameron to to put regulations in place on such social networking websites to try to prevent another tragedy.
Ask.fm is a question-and-answer site which allows users to send messages to one another without their identity being disclosed.
Speaking to Channel 4 News Gallagher said, “I was very upset when I started reading about [Hannah Smith’s death]. It was a mirror image of Erin."
On the matter of Ask.fm she said, “I know you probably can't shut it down, but for it to be anonymous, that's just inviting bullies...I would love to see it shut down. I don't want to go and see another child has killed themselves because of bullying on Ask.fm."
The Latvia-based site, launched three years ago by brothers Ilja and Mark Terebin, makes roughly $9.2 million a year through advertising.
Earlier this week Hannah’s father said the company was dancing on his daughter’s grave after they tweeted, “Ask.fm hits 70 million registered users.”
The Telegraph reports that five million people have signed up following Hannah’s death.
On Tuesday afternoon the brothers released this statement:
“An independent audit is currently being undertaken of our site and its safety features. On Friday, once the investigation is concluded, we will be in a position to share with everyone the changes and improvements we plan to make to combat online bullying and harassment. We are committed to taking comprehensive and decisive action to ensure our social network is a safe environment.”
Here’s the Channel 4 interview with Lorraine Gallagher: