Website linked to 10 cyberbullying suicides

Credit: Getty Images

LONDON, ENGLAND: In this photo illustration a laptop computer shows the Ask.FM website, which has been linked to cyber bullying suicides (Photo by Danny E. Martindale/Getty Images)

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by Helen A.S. Popkin NBC News

kgw.com

Posted on November 6, 2013 at 8:54 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 5:40 PM

While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram rank as the most popular social networks among teens, another website that many parents may be unfamiliar with continues to make the news in a very bad way.

Ask.fm., a Latvia-based social network where members interact by inviting others to ask anonymous questions, has been linked to at least 10 teen suicides involving cyberbullying.

"Most recently, we saw a 12-year-old girl in Florida kill herself after bullying on the site ... one Irish teenager actually named Ask.fm in her suicide note," TODAY correspondent Michelle Kosinski said Wednesday morning.

Reporting from Riga, Latvia where the three-year-old social network's small office is located, Kosinski pointed to comments made to kidnap victim Hannah Anderson on Ask.fm, where she hosted a forum 48 hours after her rescue. "Drink bleach" and "Go die" were just two comments received by the girl whose mother and brother had been murdered.

While the Ask.fm founders refused to meet with Kosinksi, she pointed out that the site made changes in August. "You can report bullying, easily block anonymous posters," she said.

Ask.fm also says it's hiring moderators and making incentives to register at the site, which would make it easier to track identity of the bullies. In a statement to TODAY the social network said that "Ask.fm is committed to doing everything it can to protect its users and stamp out bullying or any other kind of abuse."

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