In the last couple of days, calls for ask.fm – the social networking site which gives its users anonymity – to be shut down have rocketed, following the apparent suicide of several teenagers after being negatively affected by other users of the site.

But should ask.fm really be held responsible for these deaths? I don’t think so.

In a world where people want to communicate online – whether it be with friends or complete strangers – we can expect to see more and more social networks, especially those aimed at young people. Each site will have its own USP – Facebook lets you connect with friends; Twitter lets you follow anybody, from celebrities to school friends; Ask.fm lets you ask questions.

The danger, however, comes when anonymity is introduced. But anonymity isn’t exclusive to ask.fm. Anybody can establish a Twitter account, as we’ve seen with the recent increase of ‘trolling’. It’s the same with any social network.

The problem is that people can hide behind that screen of anonymity, safe in the knowledge they’ll probably never be caught. That enables them to persistently bully people online. And I think that identifies a huge problem, not with social networks, but with our society.

A website is nothing more than a vehicle, a tool for people to use, to communicate, to have fun. It’s users who manipulate the intended purpose of a site in order to harm other people. Sadly, this is how bullying has evolved. Years ago, it would be restricted to the playground. Now, it’s at school, on the computer and in your pocket – encompassing every aspect of your life.

But that doesn’t mean we have to simply accept it. Site owners can monitor communications and install block & report functions. Individuals can choose not to use particular sites. Governments can crack down on cyber bullying.

So let’s not blame tech entrepreneurs for providing people with a communication tool. Instead, let’s tackle the problems which are infecting our society.

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