PARENTS CALL FOR ASK FM TO BE CLOSED DOWN AFTER ANOTHER TEEN COMMITS SUICIDE DUE TO ONLINE BULLIES – A number of parents are appealing to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, to take action and close down Ask FM after another teenager takes her life after months of online bullying.
Hannah Smith, a 14 year old schoolgirl, has become the latest victim of Ask FM, a social network that is specifically targeted at teens. Ask FM is a teen social questions and answers network that allows teens to interact with one another.
To date five children have committed suicide that has been directly related to the use of Ask FM; the young victims include:
- Hannah Smith
- Josh Unsworth
- Ciara Pugsley
- Erin Gallagher
- Shannon Gallagher
Parents are now asking the Government how many more teenagers will have to die before it takes action against Ask FM. Ask FM is owned and operated from Latvia and does not comply with UK regulations.
An inside whistleblower recently said that Ask FM bosses doesn’t want to tackle the problem for fear that any controls would drive away its user base and potentially lose £5 million in advertising revenue per year.
Ask FM of course is not alone; Facebook and Twitter have been constantly under pressure from regulators to reduce the amount of online abuse that some people are subject too. A memorial page was created on Facebook for Hannah Smith and it was only a mere few hours online before the vile troll started leaving their hateful messages.
In Hannha’s case she suffered with eczema and asked other teens on Ask FM of any remedies; it was then that the abuse started and became relentless, including responses of ‘go cut yourself and die’ and ‘try drinking bleach’.
Ask FM allows its users to operate in total anonymity and offers no privacy controls that would help to curb the activities of online trolls; an online troll is a person who engages in taunting others with vile messages in order to satisfy their sick egos.
Teenager’s are particularly vulnerable online and are generally open to the powers of suggestion; it’s not just trolls attacking these children but also sexual predators looking to groom young girls and without firm control measures these groups are able to target teenagers with almost impunity.
According to Ask FM boses, Ilja and Mark Terebin, Ask FM has some 60 million teenage users asking over 30 million questions a day. The system is also monitored by 50 people who moderate the questions and answers and will take action if any user reports abuse.
The internet is an integral part of our daily lives and with the plethora of social networks available there will always be those sick individuals who obtain pleasure from another person’s suffering.
The issue here is that of anonymity; where websites allow users to register using fake names and picture profiles. It is highly unlikely that any troll would engage in their vile behaviour if they were not allowed to hide behind the veil of anonymity; a recent example of this occurred when Professor Mary Beard ousted an online troll and turned the tables on him.
If you are subject to online abuse, here’s some advice:
1. Ignore it and never attempt to respond to their vile messages.
2. Block the offending user if possible.
3. Report their activities immediately to the administrators of the website and the authorities.
4. Try Professor Beard’s approach; share the message and oust the troll.
5. Feel sorry for the troll. That might sound a bit strange but consider what you are dealing with. Trolls are sick individuals who are likely to have no self-esteem. They are probably lonely and sit in a little dark room surrounded by far too much soda and potato chips. Their lives are so shallow, so meaningless that they do what they do to provide some form of purpose. Yes, trolls are sad little individuals who probably don’t see much daylight; so feel sorry for them and ignore their attempts at communication.
It is advisable that parents monitor their children’s online activities and if your child does have an Ask FM account then maybe you ought to insist your child closes the account.
Whilst the call on David Cameron to take action against Ask FM there is, in all practicality, little he can do other that instruct the ISPs to block Ask FM access to the United Kingdom.
If parents or parent groups want to see an end to Ask FM then they have the power by insisting their children close their accounts – no users = no website; it’s really that simple but until people come together as one to take action then it’s likely that a news article of this tragic nature will be written again in the very near future.
Do you think the Government should block UK access to Ask FM? Do you think parent’s should take direct action and tell their children to close their Ask FM accounts? Please leave your comments below.
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