Website to aid 'bully death' probe


Website to aid 'bully death' probe

A website at the centre of a "cyberbullying" tragedy has described the death of a teenage girl as a "true tragedy" and promised to work with police investigating the incident.

Hannah Smith, 14, died on Friday after being "cyberbullied" on website ask.fm, her father Dave said. The question-and-answer site allows users to send messages to one another without their identity being disclosed.

Hannah, from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, was found dead in her bedroom by her sister after being cruelly taunted by online bullies, Mr Smith said.

A spokeswoman for ask.fm said the company encourages users to report any instances of abuse. She said in a statement: "Hannah Smith's death is a true tragedy; we would like to convey our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

"We have reached out to the Leicestershire police and would be happy to co-operate with their investigation into the true circumstances of her suicide.

"Ask.fm actively encourages our users and their parents to report any incidences of bullying, either by using the in-site reporting button, or via our contact page. All reports are read by our team of moderators to ensure that genuine concerns are heard and acted upon immediately - and we always remove content reported to us that violates our terms of service."

Mr Smith, 45, has called on Prime Minister David Cameron to put regulations in place on social networking websites such as ask.fm, where users can be anonymous, to try to prevent another tragedy. He is urging the authorities to close down the site, and those like it, after stumbling across cruel taunts from so-called "trolls" which he said drove his daughter to take her own life.

Mr Smith, a lorry driver, told the Leicester Mercury: "Websites like this are bullying websites because people can be anonymous. If I had not spoken up about this, another teenager could be dead next week. Ask.fm and sites like these are making millions out of people's misery and it is wrong.

"I would appeal to David Cameron as a Prime Minister and a father to look at this to make sure these sites are properly regulated so bullying of vulnerable people like my daughter cannot take place. I don't want other parents to go through what I am going through."

The tragic teenager had completed her final year at the school and was looking to transfer to Lutterworth College in August.

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