Hannah Smith - Cyber-bully victim. (via hinckleytimes.net)
On Aug 6, 2013 it was reported that Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl from Leicestershire, England, had killed herself, and that her father blamed her death on cyberbullying responses she had received on the site. He called for tighter controls against social networking sites like Ask.fm, saying that he had seen the abuse his daughter had received and it was wrong that it was anonymous. The Smith family calls were echoed by the parents of Goosnargh, Lancashire teenager Joshua Unsworth, who was reported to have been cyberbullied on the site prior to his suicide.
Following the suicide of Smith, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a boycott of websites that do not take responsibility for dealing with cyberbullying on their sites. Several advertisers responded by severing links with the site, including (amongst others) Save the Children, eBay, BT and Vodafone had already stopped advertising on the site.
The company responded by stating it was 'happy to help police'. ASKfm also conducted an internal audit and made changes to its safety policies accordingly. Above all, they enhanced reporting and blocking functionalities, and they hired more moderation staff to review reports within 24 hours upon receiving them. ASKfm also encouraged more users to have registered accounts, so the company could capture IP data for safety purposes.
The further investigation showed there was no sufficient evidence to suggest that using the ASKfm site has led to the death of the young girl. In fact, Det Sgt Wayne Simmons revealed that Hannah had been sending ‘bullying and aggressive messaging’ to herself. Later Hannah Smith's case of self-bullying became a subject of academic research.