David Smith, whose daughter, Hannah, endured months of torment on the controversial question-and-answer website Ask.fm before being found hanged in her bedroom, told ITV’s Daybreak programme that he had banned her from using the site, but she had carried on in secret.
“I had already told Hannah to stay off Ask.fm because the school actually sent a text out saying ‘Keep your kids off Ask.fm’. I told her to stay off it, but with Ask.fm it’s very difficult to find it on the computer anyway.”
Her sister, Jo, who discovered Hannah’s body on Aug 2, said she herself had stopped using the website — which allows users to ask anonymous questions — after being called “horrible things” just months before her sister’s death.
“I used it about four months ago and got called a slag and horrible things, so I stopped using it,” she said. “I didn’t really get very nice questions — there were no nice questions.”
She added that Hannah had also kept her use of the site a secret from her big sister, setting up another Facebook account as another way of accessing Ask.fm.
Mr Smith called for “new regulations” to govern social media sites to “stop these trolls doing what they are doing”. He also criticised the anonymity afforded to online “trolls” by such sites.
Hannah’s sister added that she thought teenagers needed to be taught how to deal properly with abuse received online.
Family and friends of Hannah, from Lutterworth in Leicestershire, said a final goodbye to the teen at her funeral on Aug 16.
Following her death, Ask.fm was heavily criticised and has since pledged to work with police concerning the tragedy. The website’s operators have also instructed law firm Mishcon de Reya to carry out a full and independent audit of its site and safety features.
Specsavers, Vodafone, Laura Ashley, EDF Energy, and charity Save the Children all pulled adverts from Ask.fm in the aftermath of the schoolgirl’s death.
Mr Smith has already called for an immediate change in the law to protect vulnerable youngsters.