Prime Minister calls for boycott of social networks that ignore online bullying, after schoolgirl death

Prime Minister David Cameron has called for the general public to boycott social networking sites that fail to deal with online abuse.

He spoke in the aftermath of the death of 14-year-old Hannah Smith, from Leicestershire, who is believed to have killed herself as a result of cyber-bullying.

"I think there are some steps that need to be taken," Cameron told the BBC. "First of all, the people that run these websites have got to step up to the plate, clean up their act and show some responsibility."

Hannah's father said he found messages telling her to die on the website Ask.fm, which allows users to post anonymous questions and answers online.

"Just because something is done online doesn't mean that it's legal," continued Cameron. "If you incite hatred, if you incite violence, that's a crime whether you do it in a television studio, on a soapbox or online and so these people can be chased."

Ask.fm, which is based in Riga, Latvia, has reached out to Leicestershire police and issued a statement, saying, "Hannah Smith's death is a tragedy; we would like to convey our deepest condolences to her family and friends.

"Ask.fm actively encourages our users and their parents to report any incidences of bullying, either by using the in-site reporting button, or via our contact page."

"If websites don't clean up their act and don't sort themselves out then we as members of the general public have got to stop using these particular sites and boycott them," added Cameron.

This is not the first warning David Cameron has flashed against social networks. Two years ago, the Prime Minister said that he would consider blocking social networks in incidents of civil crisis, such as the London riots, which he claimed were "organised via social media."

Cyber-bullying has been a hot issue over recent weeks, with Twitter receiving widespread ciriticism over its handling of the violent threats aimed at several women, such as Mary Beard and Stella Creasy.

The micro-blogging site has since updated its user guidelines and introduced an in-Tweet report button to its iOS app and mobile website, which will hit the full Twitter website and Android app next month.

Image credit: Flickr (World Economic Forum)

404

Sorry! Page not found.

The article you requested has either been moved or removed from the site.