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Ask.fm boss 'heartbroken' by death of Irish teens


Ciara Pugsley

Ciara Pugsley

Jonathan Pugsley

Jonathan Pugsley

Ciara Pugsley

THE boss of controversial website Ask.fm says he was left heartbroken at the deaths of Irish teenagers who had been bullied on the site.

Doug Leeds, chief executive of the company which recently bought the site from its Latvian onwers, says that strict new measures will be brought in to tackle cyber bullies. The company plans to relocate to Dublin.

Ciara Pugsley (15), from Co Leitrim and Erin Gallagher (13), from Co Donegal both took their own lives in 2012 after being subjected to vile abuse from anonymous posters on the site.

Mr Leeds, who runs Ask.com, bought Ask.fm three months ago.

"The tragedies of the past are absolutely heart-wrenching. As the father of three teenaged daughters, I am personally committed to making Ask.fm a safer and more positive experience," he said. "This is not the same Ask.fm that existed before. We have a long-term plan to overhaul the site."

Mr Leeds said he would be prepared to meet Ciara Pugsley's father Jonathan to assure him about a range of new safety measures.

Mr Pugsley said he would agree to meet Mr Leeds.

Mr Leeds said that while the website's users can post anonymous messages, Ask.fm has the means to identify them and provide their details to law enforcement authorities if they are engaged in criminal or abusive activity.

Children's Minister James Reilly said his officials have asked to meet the new owners of the site.