Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Advertisers quit bully row website

Major advertisers have withdrawn from a website linked to the suicide of teenager Hannah Smith, despite protests from the company that it does "not condone bullying of any kind".

Specsavers, Vodafone, Laura Ashley, EDF Energy and charity Save the Children have all pulled ads from Ask.fm. Hannah, 14, was found hanged by her 16-year-old sister on Friday at their home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, after being bullied on the social networking site.

A Specsavers spokesman said the company had instructed Ask.fm to remove all of its adverts from the site due to "deep concerns over cyberbullying". Save the Children said: "We put the welfare of children first and, as a result of the tragic case of Hannah Smith, we no longer advertise on Ask.fm."

Ask.fm said in a statement that the company, founded by Mark and Ilja Terebin, wanted to "reassure all users and parents of users that we are committed to ensuring that our site is a safe environment".

The statement added: "We do not condone bullying of any kind, or any form of unacceptable use of our site." Ask.fm described the teenager's death as a "true tragedy" and said they had been speaking to Leicestershire Police since the incident.

They went on to say that various measures had been implemented over the past few months to continue improving users' safety, and improved reporting policies have been put in place.

The company said: "Bullying is an age-old problem that we in no way condone - and while its evolution online is disturbing, it certainly is not unique to our site. We will continue to work with the appropriate organisations to safeguard against bullying on Ask.fm - and we would welcome the opportunity to align with the rest of industry and society in fighting it on a higher level."

Earlier, David Cameron said he was looking at what action to take "to try and stop future tragedies likes this". The Prime Minister said: "The people that operate these websites have got to step up to the plate... If you incite someone to do harm, if you incite violence, that is breaking the law, whether that is online or offline. Also, there's something all of us can do as parents and as users of the internet and that is not to use some of these vile sites. Boycott them, don't go there, don't join them - we need to do that as well."

Hannah's father, David Smith, said those who run the website should face murder or manslaughter charges and called for more regulation of social networking sites. "There's something not right with the world today if people can tell somebody to die so many times that they actually do it," he said.

Leicestershire Police confirmed they had been contacted by Mr Smith about further claims of ''inappropriate postings'' on Facebook. Hannah's sister, Joanne, told the Daily Mirror she was being subjected to the same hateful taunts as her sister, while a Facebook page dedicated to Hannah had also been targeted.

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph