Ask.fm

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Ask.fm
Ask.fm Logo.png
Type Social networking
Founded June 16, 2010
Headquarters Dublin, Ireland
Area served Worldwide
Industry Internet
Owner IAC
Slogan(s) Where the world wants to know
Website www.ask.fm
Alexa rank negative increase 323 (March 2015)[1]
Type of site Social Q&A website
Advertising Yes
Registration Optional, required to post responses
Users 150 million (February 9, 2015)[2]
Available in Azerbaijani, Indonesian, Malaysian, Bosnian, Danish, German, Estonian, English, Spanish, Tagalog, French, Croatian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Finnish, Swedish, Vietnamese, Turkish, Czech, Greek, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Bengali, Thai, Georgian, Japanese, Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean (January 2015)[3]
Launched June 16, 2010
Current status Active

Ask.fm is a global social networking site where users create profiles and can send each other questions, with the option of doing so anonymously. The site was founded in Latvia and launched on June 16, 2010[4] as a rival to Formspring.[4] It has since overtaken the latter in terms of worldwide traffic generated [1][5] with 150 million monthly unique users as of March 2015. The site was purchased by Ask.com in August 2014 with the intention to "focus on turning around the philosophy of the company and putting trust and safety first."[6] Since the acquisition, the company has made a number of changes toward its goal of improving the safety of its users. These include parting ways with Ask.fm founders, Mark and Ilya Terebin, whom Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds described as having a "laissez-faire" approach to safety[7] and proactively partnering with the New York Attorney General[8] and the Maryland Attorney General[9] in the creation of a multi-step plan to turn the site around. Ask.fm has since launched its first-ever Safety Advisory Board[10] of which John Carr OBE, Anne Collier, Marsali Hancock, Dr. Brian O'Neill and Dr. Justin Patchin are board members, as well as a new Safety Center[11] which includes specific tools, tips and guidance for teens, teachers, parents and law enforcement. In February 2015, under the direction of Chief Trust and Safety Officer Catherine Teitelbaum, Ask.fm sponsored its first Safer Internet Day[12] and launched a #nobullies campaign[13] to drive awareness of the company's no tolerance policy for abusive behavior on the Ask.fm service.[14]

Criticism[edit]

In mid-2013, before Ask.com bought Ask.fm, the site was the subject of several media articles regarding cyber-bullying that have been linked to suicides.[15] This was largely in response to widely reported cases of anonymous offensive messaging and suicides apparently resulting from such bullying. The site courted controversy by not having workable reporting, tracking or parental control processes, which have become the norm on other social media websites. Now owned by Ask.com, the site has a complete set of reporting and blocking features as well as an updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy which details the ground rules of using Ask.fm.

At the time, existing leaders Mark and Ilya Terebin responded to the allegations by stating that they did have a reporting feature and employ a number of moderators to fight cyberbullying. Accordingly, the site had a "sexually explicit comment" monitor staffed by moderators; however, no comments were ever deleted, even for explicit threats. This was a major cause of criticism.[16] Under Ask.com management, Ask.fm has significantly expanded filters with key words and language patterns and has improved automated moderation. Human moderation has grown to 24/7 coverage and is catching 40% more user posts for human review.[citation needed]

On 6 August 2013, it was reported that Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl from Leicestershire, England, had committed suicide, and that her father blamed her death on bullying responses she had received on the site. He called for tighter controls against social networking sites like Ask.fm, saying that he had seen the abuse his daughter had received and it was wrong that it was anonymous.[17][18] The Smith family calls were echoed by the parents of Goosnargh, Lancashire teenager Joshua Unsworth, who was reported to have been "cyberbullied" on the site prior to his suicide.[19] The company responded by stating it was 'happy to help police'.[20]

Following the suicide of Hannah Smith, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a boycott of websites that don't take responsibility for dealing with cyberbullying on their sites.[21] Several advertisers responded by severing links with the site, including (amongst others) Save the Children,[22] eBay and BT. Vodafone had already stopped advertising on the site.[22]

However, the site is still popular and growing. Ask.fm has 150 million users, 25 billion answers and 49 languages.[citation needed]

Since Ask.com has acquired Ask.fm,[23] it has relocated its headquarters to Dublin, Ireland[24] and spent millions of dollars to establish the infrastructure and process to improve safety.[citation needed] As part of its relocation to Ireland, Ask.fm officials met with the Department of Children[25] to assure the proper steps are being taken to "significantly improve" protections on the website. Aine Lynch of the National Parents Council said she met with the new owners of Ask.fm at their request and that "they seem to be really going through the site to try and make sure that it's moderated better and that postings on it are more responsible.".[25]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Ask.fm Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-03-31. 
  2. ^ Blake, Jonathan. BBC.co.uk. BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/31249209. Retrieved 4 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ "Ask.fm Languages". Retrieved 2015-01-12. 
  4. ^ a b Kenins, Laura (14 November 2012). "Latvian Web site at center of cyber-bullying inquiry". The Baltic Times (Riga). Baltic News Ltd. 
  5. ^ "Formspring.me Site Info on Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02. 
  6. ^ Isaac, Mike. nytimes.com. NY Times Bits Blog http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/14/ask-com-buys-ask-fm-an-anonymous-qa-start-up/?_r=0. Retrieved 4 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ Pollak, Sorcha. "Reporter". http://www.irishtimes.com. The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Schneiderman, Eric T. "Attorney General". http://ag.ny.gov/. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Frosh, Brian E. "Attorney General". http://www.oag.state.md.us/. Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  10. ^ Hade, Emma Jane. "Reporter". http://www.independent.ie. The Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  11. ^ Sullivan, Laurie. "Reporter". http://www.mediapost.com. Media Post. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  12. ^ http://www.saferinternetday.org. Safer Internet Day http://www.saferinternetday.org/web/guest/members?p_p_id=member_WAR_membersrolefilteredportlet&roleId=43154&p_p_state=maximized. Retrieved 5 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Gardner, Will. http://www.childnet.com. Childnet http://www.childnet.com/blog/askfm-support-childnet. Retrieved 5 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ Ensign, Emily. http://www.ikeepsafe.org. iKeepSafe.Org http://www.ikeepsafe.org/digital-citizenship-2/reflecting-on-sid15-and-looking-forward-to-a-better-internet-ahead/. Retrieved 5 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  15. ^ Beckford, Martin (13 January 2013). "Pupils and parents warned social networking website linked to teen abuse". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Sarle, Dmitri (13 May 2013). "Ask.fm Responds To Cyberbullying". ArcticStartup. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  17. ^ Smith, Hannah (6 August 2013). "Hannah Smith death: Father says daughter was victim of cyberbullies". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Shute, Joe. "Cyberbullying suicides: What will it take to have Ask.fm shut down?". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  19. ^ Joshua Unsworth's parents call for ban on notorious website ask.fm Lancashire Evening Post
  20. ^ "Hannah Smith: Ask.fm 'Happy To Help Police'". Sky News. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Coyne, Ellen (8 August 2013). "Cyberbullying websites should be boycotted, says Cameron". Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  22. ^ a b Chapman, Matthew (9 August 2013). "Save the Children leads ad boycott of Ask.fm following suicide tragedy". Brand Republic. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  23. ^ Price, Rob. "Reporter". http://www.businessinsider.com. Business Insider. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  24. ^ Pollack, Sorcha. "Reporter". http://www.irishtimes.com. The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  25. ^ a b O'Connor, Niall; Weckler, Adrian. http://www.independent.ie. The Independent http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/news/controversial-askfm-will-retain-anonymity-despite-links-to-deaths-of-bullied-teenagers-30803577.html. Retrieved 5 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)