founder says site 'just a tool' and media 'knocking on wrong door'


The head of the website ask.fmhas rejected criticism surrounding its use for the bullying of Donegal teenager Erin Gallagher who took her life at the weekend.

Mark Terebin, founder and chief executive of the Latvia-based website, where hurtful comments about the 13-year-old had been published, described her suicide as “a true tragedy”.

However, he said: “ is just a tool which helps people to communicate with each other, same as any other social network, same as phone, same as piece of paper and pen.

“Don’t blame a tool, but try to make changes . . . start with yourself . . . be more polite, more kind, more tolerant of others . . . cultivate these values in families, in schools,” Mr Terebin posted on the website.

“Mass media is knocking on wrong door. It is necessary to go deeper and to find a root of a problem. It’s not about the site, the problem is about education, about moral values that were devaluated lately.”

He added: “What happened is a true tragedy and we give our deepest condolences to the victim’s family and relatives.”

Calls have been made for better regulation of social networking sites in the wake of Erin’s death and that of Ciara Pugsley (15), who was also the victim of bullying comments on

Attempts by The Irish Times to contact ask.fmfor comment have been unsuccessful.