Ask.fm may finally solve its teen suicide problem

Since 2012, more than a dozen teenagers have killed themselves after being bullied on the Latvian social network.

Mar 1, 2020, 9:10 pm*

Internet Culture

 

Fernando Alfonso III

The life of Gabbi Dix, 47, was turned upside down a year ago.

That’s when she walked in her daughter Izzy’s bedroom and found the 14-year-old hanging by her neck.

The girl girl from the small British town of Brixham had become the latest in a line of teenagers who’ve committed suicide after being bullied relentlessly on Ask.fm, a social network where people can ask each other questions anonymously.

“Izzy was bullied at the moment she started at the school,” Dix told the Guardian. “She continued to be bullied in and out of school by both boys and girls. Izzy was bullied for being bright and wearing a longer skirt than others. Izzy said she felt there was nowhere to go at break time and she said she thought she would have the mickey taken out of her if she went to student support.”

Following the death of her daughter, Dix started a Change.org campaign calling for the British government to shut down Ask.fm. It also included the names of 15 other Ask.fm teenagers who’ve committed suicide since September 2012. This includes 14-year-old Hannah Smith of Lutterworth, Leicestershire, who killed herself after she was told to “drink bleach” and “go die.”

The petition has collected more than 144,000 digital signatures. That number, the fact that Ask.fm was acquired by IAC in August, and all the publicity resulted in the president of IAC, Doug Leeds, contacting Dix.

Doug and his team are in charge, safety is the number one priority,” Dix wrote on Change.org. “The changes they are spending millions on moderation to deal with bullying and recruiting a team of world-renowned child safety experts to sit on a ‘safety advisory board.’ While this is by no means the ‘closing down’ of the site that our petition first called for, we couldn’t be more happy. We truly believe these changes will make a big difference in protecting young people online.”

H/T torquayheraldexpress.co.uk | Photo via Facebook

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*First Published: Sep 18, 2014, 2:55 pm