Royal Wootton Bassett schoolboy organises march to show dangers of website Ask.fm (From This Is Wiltshire)
Royal Wootton Bassett schoolboy organises march to show dangers of website Ask.fm
SCHOOLBOY Josh Johnston is determined to make a social networking site that pushed him close to suicide sit up and take notice of his disgust.
Josh, 12, a pupil at the Royal Wootton Bassett Academy, has organised a march through the town on Saturday to raise awareness of the way Ask.fm is ruining young people’s lives.
The Latvian website has been widely criticised for allowing users to post anonymous answers to others’ questions and has seen several national firms withdraw their advertising.
Josh, who faced a daily barrage of death threats and insults after he began using the site last September, will start the protest outside the Costa branch in Borough Fields at noon. He hopes to take any supporters along the town’s High Street with banners, a petition and leaflets explaining the dangers of the website.
“They keep promising to do something about the site and do an audit, but there hasn’t been anything published yet,” said Josh, who lives in East View, Broad Town.
“Ask.fm said they were going to do something, but they haven’t, so now it’s time to hear from the kids.”
Josh printed off his petition yesterday and had already collected 10 signatures before 5pm, though he remains nervous of how many people will support his cause at the weekend.
Despite his tender age, Josh has taken the reins of this project himself, with little help from his parents. He has already invited ITV, the BBC and the local press to the event.
“I haven’t really had any help. I just wanted it to be my own kind of style. My parents have helped me with letters and contact numbers, but I’ve been making the calls and getting in touch with people,” he said. “It does take a lot of time calling people and planning the event, and it has been hard, but I hope it will all be worth it.
“I’m a bit nervous to see just how many people will turn up, though the Samaritans are coming. They contacted me personally after the original article came out. I am hoping they will bring a bit more support with them.”
Ask.fm has been linked to the death of bullied Leicestershire teen Hannah Smith and has exposed Josh to threats such as ‘go die’ or ‘go hang yourself’.
Since the Adver’s article, which detailed Josh’s plight, he has received positive messages from friends, who were not aware of the full story, which had remained private up to then.
“It’s been really positive because everyone’s really inspired someone’s doing something about it. They’re really impressed with what I’ve put together so far,” said the youngster.
“A lot of people know about it now. My friends didn’t really see the private stuff before, but now it’s all out in the open it has helped.”