Ask.FM IAC Technology looks to revamp tarnished past by forming a net safety advisory board


By John McCarthy | Opinion editor

January 15, 2015 | 3 min read

Q&A network has launched its first ever safety advisory board as part of a broad push from owner IAC to clean up the site’s act.

Back in August 2013, the unmoderated public forum came under severe public scrutiny after the site’s unhindered cyber-bullying resulted in the suicide of 14 year old Hannah Smith.

Following that scandal, internet giant IAC launched a takeover of in August 2014, issuing a make or break vow to clean up the site while retaining users’ freedom of speech.

The safety advisory board is comprised of experts with a broad range of specialities including John Carr OBE, secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety; Anne Collier, digital safety expert; Marsali Hancoc, founding president and chief executive officer of; Dr Brian O'Neill, the director of research, enterprise and innovation services at the Dublin Institute of Technology and Dr Justin Patchin, the co-director of CyberBullying Research Center.

The board members will oversee and guide the social network towards a safer future by developing new policies, procedures and strategies to protect users. Furthermore, it will collaborate industry, communities, schools, government and law enforcement for advice and feedback. in October said it had started "improving incrementally" the site’s safety features with a revamp making it easier to report inappropriate or abusive behaviour.

John Carr said: "We see extreme behaviour in all walks of life. But on social networks, we have the chance to spot it, intervene or help where needed. I have been extremely impressed by’s commitment to improving safety on, and am pleased that the team is seeking guidance from experts in safety so as to accelerate that process.

" has the resource and the intent to make a real difference to the site’s safety, without detracting from the user experience."

Dr Brian O’Neill added: "Children’s use of both the Internet and mobile devices continues to shift rapidly, and key to ensuring youth safety online is an understanding of what motivates them, and their use of the technology.

"I look forward to teaming up with my peers in this space and guiding toward evidence-based strategies to keep younger audiences safe and responsible as they navigate their digital worlds."

Over the last five months, the social network saw 20 per cent growth in the moderation team, updated its terms and conditions to better protect users and has engaged in discourse with government safety regulators across the world.

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