London - A controversial website used by a 14-year-old who ended her life after enduring months of online bullying has introduced a range of changes intended to improve safety.
The Ask.fm co-founders, Ilja and Mark Terebin, said an audit into the site and its safety features, ordered in the wake of the death of Hannah Smith, has now been completed. The changes are set to include a more prominent “report button” on the site, and more staff hired to work as moderators.
It will also create an extra website for parents, as well as incentives to encourage people to register to use the site.
The question-and-answer website was heavily criticised in the wake of the death of Hannah, who endured months of torment on the site before being found hanged in her bedroom.
Specsavers, Vodafone, Laura Ashley, EDF Energy and the charity Save the Children all pulled their adverts from Ask.fm, which pledged to work with Leicestershire Police concerning the death and instructed the law firm Mishcon de Reya to carry out the audit.
In a statement the site's founders said: “Based on the findings and the recommendations that were made, we can today announce our commitment to making changes to Ask.fm's existing policies in three core areas: reporting and moderation, registration, and corporate visibility.”
David Smith, Hannah's father, described the measures as “a good thing”. “It's a shame that someone has to go through what I and my family have gone through to get a company to change its ways,” he said.
NSPCC safer technology expert Claire Lilley said: “It's good that Ask.fm have responded to calls for them to do more to tackle online bullying and harassment.
“Unfortunately these changes come too late for some young people but their suggestions for an improved report button, moderation, and information on sources of help and advice are a step in the right direction.” - The Independent