Two charming, good-looking brothers from a wealthy family, Mark and Ilja Terebin of Riga, Latvia, launched the free social networking website ask.fm, where tweens and teens ask and answer questions like “Are you usually the heart breaker or the heart broke? What are you afraid of? What’s the one thing you’d like to change but can’t?" Users can write an answer or record a video answer. And they can ask (anonymously, most do) any of the other 65 million registered users any question they want. 30 million questions and answers are exchanged via ask.fm, every day. (Users have the option not to receive anonymous questions, and equally users can also elect never to ask an anonymous question.)
Over the past year, several cases of cyberbullying that took place on Ask.fm have coincided with suicides, including that of Hannah Smith, 14, of Leicestershire, UK who received several abusive questions like "Why don't you kill yourself?" Although Smith was banned from going on the site by her concerned father, she set up a different Facebook account in order to access her Ask.fm account. According to the Terebins, who have agreed to work with the police regarding Smith's case, they say some kids come to sites like Ask.fm to "troll themselves so that their peers start protecting them. In this absurd way, they get the attention" they desperately seek. What that means, in English, is that the kids become their own anonymous tormentors, in order to win sympathy. According to Ask.fm "98 per cent of the messages sent to Smith came from the same IP address as her own computer."
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