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Stronger reassurances needed to protect advertisers from online ad misplacement, ISBA says as ask.fm advertisers pull out

With brands such as The Sun, Save The Children, Mind and Specsavers all pulling their advertising from social media website ask.fm following the suicide of Hannah Smith, ISBA has suggested this shows how little control advertisers hold.

ISBA’s director of media and advertising, Bob Wootton, said: “Purely from an advertiser-safety point of view, these tragic events demonstrate how little control advertisers sometimes have over where their ads can appear.

“Advertisers are clearly very concerned about the unintended placement of the brands they invest millions in protecting and promoting, and it is quite understandable that companies are now withdrawing their advertising from ask.fm.”

He suggested that platforms should follow the footsteps of Facebook, which recently announced its aim ‘to restrict ads from appearing next to pages and groups that contain any violent, graphic or sexual content’.

Speaking to The Drum, Tony Neate, CEO of getsafeonline.org, said: “The internet is an extension of our social lives, and unfortunately bullying takes place online as well as in the physical world. In fact, people can be far bolder when sat behind the safety of their screen and say things they wouldn’t dream of saying in real life – especially when they are able to post anonymously.

“Previously, when school broke up for the summer young people could get away from bullies, but with the internet there is often no escape for victims. It is therefore an important issue to address.

“At Get Safe Online we ask people to learn the differences between the different social networks and think carefully about which ones they want to use. We would recommend only joining a social network which has strong security settings to protect your information, and which gives the user the ability to connect only with people they know and trust in real life. Of course this does not eradicate bullying but it doesn’t leave us quite so open to threatening or harmful messages from people we don’t even know.

“If you do find yourself to be a victim of bullying online, from someone you do or don’t know, it’s important to follow the same rules as if it was happening at school or in the workplace and tell someone what is happening. This could be a friend, family member, an organisation like Beatbullying, or even the police if it is an issue of real concern.”

Should this subject affect yourself or any other young person you know, then ChildLine can be contacted on 0800 1111.

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