UK & World News
Teen Suicide: Site 'Does Not Condone Bullying'
The founders of Ask.fm, where teenager Hannah Smith was bullied before she took her own life, have defended the social networking website.
It comes as firms including Vodafone, Phones 4u, Specsavers, Laura Ashley, DialAFlight and Universelook as well as charities Mind and Save The Children pulled their advertising from the site amid "deep concerns over cyber bullying".
Bosses Mark and Ilja Terebin of the Latvia-based website said they were committed to providing a "safe environment" for their users and wanted to reassure them and their parents.
They also said: "We do not condone bullying of any kind, or any form of unacceptable use of our site."
Hannah's father, Dave Smith, has called for the website's owners to be charged with manslaughter.
The 14-year-old girl from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, was found hanged on Friday after repeated messages encouraging her to kill herself and criticising her appearance.
Ask.fm allows users to post anonymous questions and messages but has been criticised for not doing enough after several other teenagers took their lives - apparently after receiving abuse on the site.
Speaking to the Daily Mirror in his first on-camera interview since Hannah's death, Mr Smith said: "The people that run it should get done for manslaughter or murder because you try contacting them and they don't care.
"These websites should be got rid of, if nothing else they need to be regulated and they need to stop people from doing this."
Ask.fm has expressed its "sincerest sympathies" to Hannah's family, called her death a "true tragedy" and said it was co-operating with Leicestershire Police's investigation.
In the latest statement, the founders also said they wanted to highlight a number of existing "safety" features available for its users.
They said these included an 'in-question' reporting function, in place since 2012, and similar to the in-Tweet function announced by Twitter this week.
This feature enables our users to report with just one click any question that they may find objectionable or offensive.
The bosses added they have a team of moderators working around the clock who manually check every photograph or video posted to the site, so anything of a sexual, pornographic or violent nature is removed.
"Our moderators also read and deal appropriately with every concern or report that is raised by a user; we remove content if we feel it infringes our terms of service."
They added: "Although it is possible to post anonymously to the site, we would like to reassure parents that in almost all cases it is possible for Ask.fm to identify users - through IP technology."
Earlier, staff at Ask.fm refused to tell Sky News about its system for reporting abuse.
Sky's Ian Woods approached an employee in Riga, Latvia, and asked to see how the firm moderates its messages and how it tackles abuse.
But the worker said the correspondent should speak to an official from the company.
The Prime Minister had said internet users should boycott "vile" websites which allow cyber bullying to avoid more deaths of young people who receive abuse online.
David Cameron said website operators must "step up to the plate" to ensure users are protected.
Latvia's justice minister Janis Bordans told Sky News his government will investigate whether any legislation is appropriate.
:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 08457 90 90 90 or email email@example.com.
:: BeatBullying.org is also available for advice and support.