Ask.fm puts safety first with new advisers
Children's Minister Dr James Reilly has welcomed the appointment of a 'Safety Advisory Board' to controversial website Ask.fm.
The website, which moved its headquarters from Latvia to Dublin recently, has announced the appointment of the inaugural advisory board, which is geared towards enhancing the "safety of its service" and making it a "safer and more positive place" for its 150 million monthly users.
A spokesperson for Minister Reilly last night said that he "welcomes continued moves to ensure the safety of users of the site".
The controversial social media website was recently bought by Ask.com and a meeting was held with between site officials and the Department of Children last year prior to their relocation here. The minister's spokesperson said that this had been "very useful".
The newly established advisory board will be led by Catherine Teitelbaum, the Chief Trust and Safety Officer.
Dr Brian O'Neill, the director of the EU Kids Online initiative in Ireland, will sit on the board and work with industry experts including Anne Collier and Dr Justin Patchin.
The website employs a questions and answers format and allows users to post anonymously.
Ciara Pugsley (15), from Leitrim, and Erin Gallagher (13), from Donegal, took their own lives after they were subjected to cyber bullying via the website.
Ask.fm has said that it now plans to focus on appointing "a law enforcement liaison position" and hopes to partner with mental health and suicide prevention groups.
Doug Leeds, CEO of Ask.com, said the website's growth was dependent on its commitment to safety. "It won't be a quick or easy process, but step by step we are methodically tackling safety issues on Ask.fm," he said.