Ask.fm is introducing changes to its site in response to several teen suicides, including the Aug. 2 death of 14-year-old Hannah Smith of England.
Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old U.K. girl, killed herself after reportedly being bullied online by other Ask.fm users.
http://ask.fm/ - Ask.fm, the Latvia-based social-networking site that's rapidly become a popular online hangout for millions of young people across the world, is clamping down on cyberbullying following several teen suicides.
The company said Monday it was introducing several changes intended to make its site safer, including: making a "report" button more prominent on the site; hiring more staff to moderate comments; and creating a "bullying/harassment" category alongside the existing categories of "spam or scam," "hate speech," "violence" and "pornographic content."
Related: http:/ews.msn.com/crime-justice/teens-face-child-PICS-charges-in-cyberbullying-case - Teens face child PICS charges in cyberbullying case
It's the latest social-network site to be confronted with challenges posed by people who harass or threaten others online.
Ask.fm's founders, brothers Ilja and Mark Terebin, said the changes were based on recommendations in an audit that was conducted "in the light of recent events highlighting the impact online bullying and harassment can have on young people." The changes will be live by September.
Among the "recent events" was the http:/ews.uk.msn.com/in-pictures/hannah-smith-funeral-tributes-to-tragic-cyberbullying-victim - suicide of Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old U.K. girl who was found hanged at her home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, on Aug. 2. Her family believes the teen killed herself after being bullied and tormented for months by other ask.fm users.
Media reports said http://www.channel4.comews/spotlight-on-ask-fm-after-teen-suicide-hannah-smith-cyberbullying - four other teens have killed themselves in the last three years after reportedly being bullied on Ask.fm.
Ask.fm's appeal to teens has been in the media limelight in the U.S. recently after Hannah Anderson, a 16-year-old California girl, http:/ews.msn.com/crime-justice/letters-from-abducted-teen-found-in-suspects-home - used the site to reveal details about her recent abduction, allegedly by a man suspected of killing Hannah’s mother and brother in San Diego County.
"The number of users on Ask.fm has increased dramatically since our launch in 2010. As the site grows we recognize that it must also mature and adapt not only to stay relevant and attractive to our users, but to promote a safe and respectful environment," the Terebins said in a statement. "It is our hope that, as part of our continuing commitment to improve our site and its safety features, these changes will help achieve this."
Hannah Smith's father welcomed the changes.
"I think it's too late, but it's not too little," Dave Smith http://www.bbc.co.ukews/world-us-canada-23752923 - told BBC. "They're actually taking a step forward and they're making things safer for children on the Internet."
Related: http://social.entertainment.msn.com/tv/blogs/post--june-shannon-denounces-daughters-cyberbullying?ocid=msnnws - June Shannon denounces daughter's cyberbullying
Ask.fm, which launched just three years ago as a Q&A social site, has a predominantly teenage user base. Last week it boasted that is has reached 70 million users worldwide.
Several companies, including the Sun, BT, Vodafone and EDF Energy, pulled their advertising from the site in the wake of Smith's suicide, and British Prime Minister David Cameron urged parents to boycott "vile" websites that allow cyberbullying.
Ask.fm is the latest social-networking site to beef up safety measures in response to cyberbullying concerns.
Facebook, the largest social-network site with more than 500 million users, two years ago unveiled a set of anti-bullying measures to keep kids safer online. The tools include a " https://www.facebook.com/safety - Family Safety Center" and more social tools for reporting offensive or bullying content.
Last month, a prosecutor in Italy said he was considering filing a criminal complaint accusing Facebook of not properly responding to bullying complaints that may have figured in the suicide of a 14-year-old girl, Carolina Picchio.
Related: http:/ews.msn.com/world/facebook-may-face-prosecution-for-teens-suicide - Facebook may face prosecution for teen's suicide