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Website linked to two deaths here has over 20 million users

SOCIAL-NETWORKING website ask.fm -- which has been linked to two suicides here -- has grown to more than 20 million users since it was founded in 2010.

It allows people over 13 to sign up and pose questions to other users, anonymously if they so wish.

Teenagers Erin Gallagher and Ciara Pugsley, who both used the site, have taken their own lives in the space of six weeks.

Website founder Mark Terebin, from Latvia, has claimed that Irish teenagers using ask.fm are "more cruel" than users from other countries

Mr Terebin, who did not respond to attempts to contact him, set up the website two years ago.

The company is based in the Latvian capital, Riga.

The website's terms of service recommend "by way of example, and not as a limitation" that users do not transmit "offensive, threatening, harassing, libellous, hate-oriented, harmful" content.

However, the terms also inform users that they are "solely" responsible for all data they transmit using the ask.fm service.

Responding to Ciara's death last month, Mr Terebin told RTE: "We do understand the gravity of the situation and I sympathise with Ciara Pugsley's family.

"Of course there is a problem with cyber bullying in social media. But as far as we can see, we only have this situation in Ireland and the UK most of all. It seems like children are more cruel in these countries."

Irish Independent