Ask.fm losing advertisers in wake of schoolgirl death

Ask.fm is losing scores of advertisers after the site was linked to the suicide of a teenage girl.

Specsavers, BT, The Sun and Save the Children have all pulled ads from Ask.fm after the site was openly criticised by the father of 14-year-old Hannah Smith, from Lincolnshire, who is believed to have committed suicide as a result of cyber-bullying.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed it had removed ads from the site and told The Guardian it has "deep concerns over cyber-bullying”.

Save the Children, meanwhile, issued a statement that read: "We put the welfare of children first and as a result of the tragic case of Hannah Smith we no longer advertise on Ask.fm."

Other sites that have distanced themselves from the site include Laura Ashley, EDF and Vodafone.

Advertisers removing themselves from the site came on the same day that Prime Minister David Cameron called for the general public to boycott social networking sites that fail to deal with online abuse.

Cameron last criticised social networks for the role they played in nationwide riots two years ago when he said he would consider blocking social networks if there were any future occurrences of civil crisis on that level.

Smith was found hanged on Friday and in the aftermath her father, David Smith, found messages on Ask.fm telling her daughter to die, with the Guardian quoting her father calling for social networking sites to be subject to more regulation.

Ask.fm, which is based in Riga, Latvia, allows people to post comments anonymously and has expressed its “deepest condolences” over the teenager’s death. The site reached out to Leicestershire police, who are investigating the death, and said they “would be happy to co-operate”.

In recent weeks cyber-bullying has been a prominent issue with Twitter being roundly criticised over the handling of threats that were levelled at several women using the micro-blogging service, including Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy.