9 Aug 2013

Police concern about website's links to cyberbullying

4:18 pm on 9 August 2013

A frustrated senior police officer has contacted an international website expressing his concerns about its links to cyberbullying in New Zealand.

The site, ask.fm, is a popular social media website that allows people to ask each other questions - anonymously, if they prefer.

Police say that has allowed it to become a platform for cyberbullying, New Zealand teenagers are being caught up in abusive and sometimes sexually explicit messages.

Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael, who heads the police's online child exploitation unit, says he became so concerned he contacted the site himself - but he was not impressed with its response that people can just disable the "anonymous" function.

"The reality is that teenagers won't do that," he says, "because that's part of the fun of using the website. It serves no positive purpose, and while I respect freedom of speech, where I see it being linked to people harming themselves I just can't seen any reason why we should support a website like that."