Bullied girl's dad backs Ask.fm

The father of Hannah Smith, who committed suicide after being bullied on the Ask.fm website, has described the site's new cybersafety measures as "a good thing". But child protection charities said more needs to be done to stop online bullying.

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Bullied girl's dad: Government must regulate all internet

David Smith, whose 14-year-old daughter Hannah was found dead in her bedroom earlier this month, described Ask.fm's new measures as "a good thing".

But he said that in making changes, the site had "admitted that their website was dangerous for teenagers."

"It's now time for the Government to step up and start regulating these websites so that a 45-year-old lorry driver doesn't have to do it, because I haven't got time to do it any more," he added.

"It's not just Ask.fm, it's the whole internet. The Government actually do need step up and start regulating this internet to make the internet a safer place."


Ask.fm changes 'won't solve online bullying'

NSPCC safer technology expert Claire Lilley said: "However, these changes alone are not going to solve the problem of online bullying. And, while they are being implemented, children and young people are likely to continue to suffer.

"Parents can help by having regular conversations with their children about what is and isn't OK online, and encourage them to seek help if they are being bullied, blackmailed or see anything that upsets them.

"It's important that young people know that if they need somebody to talk to, they can call ChildLine on 0800 1111."

Charity welcomes Ask.fm changes but parents have role

Children's charity Action for Children welcomed the steps taken by Ask.fm today, saying they could not come "soon enough".

Matt Downie, head of campaigns and public affairs, said: "To have the ability to report abuse - which must be made clear - and have all cases looked into within a 24-hour window will help to address what young people are facing on a daily basis.

"We hope that the dedicated site Ask.fm has pledged to create will help parents understand how young people are communicating with each other, and that this becomes best practice for all social networking sites.

"It's important that parents talk to their children about their online experiences, to understand who they are contacting and what activities they are engaged in.

"As part of this they should continue to discuss what risks there are online and how they can be addressed."

Ask.fm promises new 'report button' by September

Ask.fm said an updated function for reporting abuse would be live by September 2013 but that new moderation staff would not be in place until January 2014.

• The amend to the report button and additional category will be completed and live on the site by September 2013.

• New members of the moderation team (including the Safety Officer) will be in place by January 2014.

• The button allowing users to opt-out of receiving anonymous questions will be more prominent and accessible by October 2013.

– Ask.fm statement

Ask.fm to create help website for users' parents

Ask.fm founders Ilja and Mark Terebin said they would create a new website for parents of its users to help them understand the site's functions and moderation policy.

We will create a separate website from the social network to act as an informational resource for parents and others.

This website, besides containing our policies on safety, privacy and moderation (amongst others) will also set out Ask.fm's purpose and values, up to date contact information for the company and the continuing work we will be doing to improve our site.

The site will be live in Spring 2014.

– Ilja and Mark Terebin


Ask.fm to encourage email sign-up for accountability

Ask.fm said it was taking steps to encourage its users to sign-up using an email address to allow them to better track reports of bullying.

Currently users do not have an incentive to register to use the site. This will change.

Unregistered users will not be able to access the same amount of features on the site as registered users.

They will have to register if they wish to obtain full access to Ask.fm.

In this way, using an email verification upon sign-up, Ask.fm can capture the email and IP addresses of users and be better equipped to deal with reports.

– Ilja and Mark Terebin

Ask.fm to appoint safety officer and more moderators

Ask.fm has announced that it will hire a safety officer to oversee the moderation of questions and comments on the social media site.

Part of a statement released by the site's founders, Ilja and Mark Terebin, said:

We will commit to reviewing all reports made using the report button within 24 hours.

To do this, we will hire more staff to act as moderators, including a Safety Officer to take overall responsibility for moderation at Ask.fm.

The report button will be more prominent on the site itself, and "bullying/harassment" will be introduced as a category alongside the existing categories of "spam or scam", "hate speech", "violence" and "pornographic content".

Users who click this button will be directed to third party resources to help them.

Ask.fm to announce the action it will take after audit

The website linked to the suicide of teenager Hannah Smith is due to announce the action it will take following a full and independent audit of its site and safety features by law firm Mishcon de Reya.

The 14-year-old from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, whose funeral was held on Friday, was said to have endured months of torment on controversial question-and-answer website Ask.fm before she was founded hanged in her bedroom two weeks ago.

Ask.fm delayed making an announcement based on the lawyers' recommendations on Friday as a mark of respect to Hannah.

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