Effects of anonymous websites like Ask.fm

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains anonymous social media sites like Ask.fm and why they can be detrimental
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Effects of anonymous websites like Ask.fm

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You know with all of the continuing updated different applications and social media sites, they are changing all the time. And things such as Ask.fm that's in place right now, it's an anonymous site. And the thing for parents to understand is this. Realize if you walked into your work today and you put a blindfold on, and now every single employee that worked in that building was able to ask you questions or make comments, but there was a voice disguiser. So they were asking questions or making comments throughout the day. Now you take the blindfold off, everybody's back in their place in work, now you're walking around throughout the day wondering, who made that comment about my family? Who made that comment about the way that I look? Who said that I don't like this person or that rumor? So you're walking around all day and you become paranoid. You're walking around all day thinking that everybody is thinking this. And that's what kids are going through. When they put themselves out there on these anonymous sites, and now they're posing questions and people can pose questions back to them, many times they come back very negative. And so now you have no clue who it is and you start feeling that everybody is feeling that way. So I try to explain to kids, please don't put yourself in those positions. It's not good. No one would want to handle those things, rumors that are going around. So please, use sites that at least you're a little bit more apt to understand who is your friend and who is not. Many times we still 100% can't have that because people can make up fake accounts, but at least it's not an all-anonymous site. And we try to steer kids and adults truly away from that.

Tina Meier, Executive Director of the Megan Meier Foundation, explains anonymous social media sites like Ask.fm and why they can be detrimental

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Tina Meier

Executive Director

Tina Meier is an internationally recognized expert on bullying, cyberbullying, internet safety, conflict resolution, the roles of parents and educators, sexting, and suicide awareness and prevention.

On October 16, 2006, Tina Meier’s life took a devastating turn when her 13 year old daughter, Megan Taylor Meier, took her own life. All attempts were made to save Megan, but unfortunately Megan passed away on October 17, 2006, just weeks from her 14th birthday.

Approximately 5 weeks prior to her passing, a 16 year old boy by the name of Josh Evans, contacted Megan through her MySpace account and they began a friendship. Tina Meier, allowed Megan to have a MySpace account with many restrictions and under her watchful eye.  Unfortunately, on that fateful day of October 16, 2006, Josh Evans and Megan began to have an argument over MySpace.  A few others joined in and horrible and hurtful messages and bulletins went out publicly to hundreds of kids. The last words that were said to Megan from Josh were, “The world would be a better place without you” and “Have a shi**y rest of your life.”

Six weeks after Megan’s suicide, Tina Meier was informed that Josh Evans never existed. In fact, he was the fictitious creation of Lori Drew, an adult neighbor that lived down the street, her 13-year-old daughter Sarah, which was Megan’s former friend, and an 18-year-old employee that worked out of Lori Drew’s home.

In December of 2007, Tina Meier, founded the 501 (c)(3) non-profit Megan Meier Foundation.  The Foundation’s mission is to “create awareness, education and promote positive change to children, parents and educators in response to the ongoing bullying and cyberbullying in our children’s daily environment.” Tina’s hope is to make a difference through spreading Megan’s story, create awarness regarding internet safety, and educate others on the consequences of bullying and cyberbullying. She hopes to help one child at a time cope with these negative social issues. Ultimately, her goal is to empower children to be the change and continue the Foundation’s mission.

At the time of this tragedy, the State of Missouri did not have laws in place to prosecute someone using electronic communications to cyberbully another person. Tina worked closely with Senator Scott Rupp and Governor Matt Blunt’s Internet Task Force for the State of Missouri to help pass Senate Bill 818, which went into law on August 28, 2008. This law amended the harassment and stalking laws to include electronic communication.

Each year, Tina travels throughout the country as a keynote speaker addressing the issue of bullying and cyberbullying in today’s world to students, educators, administrators, parents, youth rallies, counselors, law enforcement, and other professionals. Through Tina’s inspirational and educational message, the audience is empowered to make a difference not only for themselves, but others also.

Tina has continued to spread the Foundation’s message and Megan’s story through national and international media appearances such as network television stations, radio, news shows, magazines and syndicated talk shows. She also accepted a Presidential invitation to attend the 2011 White House Anti-Bullying Conference, presented at the U.S. Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools National Conference in Washington, DC, and served as a consultant during the production of the ABC Family movie, Cyberbully.

Tina Meier resides in St. Louis, Missouri, with her daughter Allison. 

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