Ask.fm

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Ask.fm
ASKfm-logo.svg
Type of business Social networking
Type of site
Social Q&A website
Available in 49 languages[1]
Traded as Ask.fm Europe Limited
Founded 16 June 2010; 8 years ago (2010-06-16)
Headquarters Riga, Latvia
Area served Worldwide
Owner Noosphere Ventures[2]
Founder(s) Mark Terebin
Industry Internet
Website www.ask.fm
Alexa rank Negative increase 726 (October 2017)[3]
Advertising Yes
Registration Required to ask questions and post responses
Users 215 million[1]
Launched 16 June 2010; 8 years ago (2010-06-16)
Current status Active

Ask.fm (also commonly known as ASKfm) is a global social networking site where users create profiles and can send each other questions. It was once a form of anonymous social media that encouraged questions to be submitted anonymously. The site was founded in 2010 in Riga, Latvia. Its headquarters was moved to Dublin, Ireland following its 2014 acquisition by IAC (who also own Ask.com).[4] In 2016 IAC sold it to Noosphere Ventures, a California-based asset management firm.[2]

History[edit]

2010–2014: Launching and cyberbullying controversies[edit]

The former logo of ASKfm

The site was founded in Latvia by brothers Ilja and Mark Terebin, and launched on 16 June 2010, as a rival to Formspring.[5][6] By 2013, ASKfm reached 65 million registered users and continued its growth by approx. 300,000 new users per-day.[7]

In mid-2013, before Ask.com bought Ask.fm, the site was the subject of several media articles regarding cyberbullying that have been linked to suicides.[8][better source needed] Commenting on the situation, Ilja Terebin stated that the company had a reporting feature and employed a number of moderators to fight cyberbullying.[9]

On 6 August 2013 it was reported that Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl from Leicestershire, England, had killed herself, and that her father blamed her death on cyberbullying 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.[10][11] 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.[12]

Following the suicide of Smith, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a boycott of websites that do not take responsibility for dealing with cyberbullying on their sites.[13] Several advertisers responded by severing links with the site, including (amongst others) Save the Children,[14] eBay, BT and Vodafone had already stopped advertising on the site.[14]

The company responded by stating it was 'happy to help police'.[15] ASKfm also conducted an internal audit and made changes to its safety policies accordingly.[16] Above all, they enhanced reporting and blocking functionalities, and they hired more moderation staff to review reports within 24 hours upon receiving them. ASKfm also encouraged more users to have registered accounts, so the company could capture IP data for safety purposes.[17][18]

The further investigation showed there was no sufficient evidence to suggest that using the ASKfm site has led to the death of the young girl. In fact, Det Sgt Wayne Simmons revealed that Hannah had been sending ‘bullying and aggressive messaging’ to herself.[19] Later Hanna’s Smith case of self-bullying became also a subject of academic research.[20]

2014–2016: Purchased by IAC and terrorist content concerns[edit]

In August 2014, the site was purchased by IAC, who also owns Ask.com, with IAC announcing its intention to refocus on safety.[4][21] Since the acquisition, changes toward this goal have include parting ways with Ask.fm founders, Tarosh, whom Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds described as having a "laissez-faire" approach to safety[22] and working with the New York Attorney General[23] and the Maryland Attorney General[24] to create a plan for site. Ask.fm has since reconsidered its user safety policies and launched a Safety Advisory Board consisting of experts in digital safety[25][26], as well as a Safety Center.[27][28]

Since IAC has acquired Ask.fm,[29] it has relocated its headquarters to Dublin, Ireland.[30] Ask.fm officials met with the Department of Children to assure the proper steps are being taken to "significantly improve" protections on the website.[31]

In 2014, BBC News documented Ask.fm being used by ISIS for recruiting and advice. An Ask.fm spokesperson said the company did not allow calls to violence or criminal activity. The ISIS accounts remained active a week after having been reported.[32]

The company subsequently joined the European Commission’s Internet Forum in 2015 to curb the spread of terrorist content[33] and is implementing the joint industry hash database initiative to detect illegal terrorist content[34] and also joined the UN Tech Against Terror initiative.

2016–present: Purchased by Noosphere and new cryptocurrency plans[edit]

In 2016 IAC sold it to Noosphere, a California-based asset management firm which also owns several online gambling services, and a cybersecurity provider.[2]

In 2017, ASKfm reached of 215 million registered users and remained the largest Q&A network in the world.[7]

In 2017, ASKfm also partnered with Koko, a company that provide AI powered service in detecting damaging content. The partnership aims to address the phenomenon of “self-bullying” by detecting such cases and providing personalized distress-support.[35]

In 2018, ASKfm teamed up with the UK charity The Diana Award and Dr Linda Papadopoulos for a research on how the online life affects the way young people build their identity.[36] The findings allowed them to create a pack of educative materials of use to young people, parents and teachers.[37][38]

In 2018, ASKfm introduced ASKfm 2.0, their ICO plans for launching a similar blockchain-based social network with its own internal cryptocurrency named as ASK Token, while rewarding users for their contents.[39] During their promotion, an incident happened on Mount Everest that caused a man to be dead.[40][41][42]

Reception[edit]

Ask.fm has been cited as an example of the problems anonymous social media can cause through its combination of offline contacts who know each other well, and the availability of online anonymity.[43][44] Since 2014, the company has been constantly improving its service to prevent bullying[45][25][37], so it can be also considered as an example of how modern cyber safety technologies are implemented to tackle the issue.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "About ASKfm". Retrieved 10 April 2018. 
  2. ^ a b c "Ask.fm changes hands once again". BBC News. 4 July 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  3. ^ "ASKfm Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 4 October 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "IAC to acquire Askfm agrees to combat cyberbullying". Big News Network.com. UPI. 15 August 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  5. ^ Blake, Jonathan (8 February 2015). "ASKfm owners 'considered shutting down' social network". BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Kenins, Laura (14 November 2012). "Latvian Web site at center of cyber-bullying inquiry". The Baltic Times. Riga. Baltic News Ltd. 
  7. ^ a b Harrop, Jonathan (28 July 2017). "Publisher Spotlight: ASKfm". AdColony. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  8. ^ Beckford, Martin (13 January 2013). "Pupils and parents warned social networking website linked to teen abuse". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  9. ^ Sarle, Dmitri (13 May 2013). "ASKfm Responds To Cyberbullying". ArcticStartup. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  10. ^ Smith, Hannah (6 August 2013). "Hannah Smith death: Father says daughter was victim of cyberbullies". Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  11. ^ Shute, Joe. "Cyberbullying suicides: What will it take to have ASKfm shut down?". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Joshua Unsworth's parents call for ban on notorious website ASKfm Lancashire Evening Post
  13. ^ Coyne, Ellen (8 August 2013). "Cyberbullying websites should be boycotted, says Cameron". Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  14. ^ a b Chapman, Matthew (9 August 2013). "Save the Children leads ad boycott of ASKfm following suicide tragedy". Brand Republic. Archived from the original on 16 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013. 
  15. ^ "Hannah Smith: ASKfm 'Happy To Help Police'". Sky News. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Jones, Sam (19 August 2013). "Ask.fm pledges cyberbullying reform after Hannah Smith death". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  17. ^ Lomas, Natasha (19 August 2013). "Ask.fm Makes Changes To Safety Policy Aimed At Combating Bullying In Wake Of Teen Suicide". TechCrunch. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  18. ^ Bennett, Owen (19 August 2013). "Ask.fm announces safety changes after suicide of cyber-bullying victim". Daily Express. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  19. ^ "Hannah Smith inquest: Teenager posted 'online messages'". BBC News. 6 May 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  20. ^ Patchin, Justin (3 October 2017). "Digital Self-Harm: The Hidden Side of Adolescent Online Aggression". Cyberbullying Research Center. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  21. ^ Isaac, Mike (14 August 2014). "Ask.com Buys Ask.fm, an Anonymous Q.&A. Start-Up". New York Times Bits Blog. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  22. ^ Pollak, Sorcha. "Reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  23. ^ Schneiderman, Eric T. "Attorney General". Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  24. ^ Frosh, Brian E. "Attorney General". Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  25. ^ a b Griffin, Andrew (16 January 2015). "Ask.fm seeks to escape troubled past and bullying claims with new safety measures". Independent. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  26. ^ Williams, Rhiannon (15 January 2018). "Ask.fm forms safety advisory board". TheTelegraph. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  27. ^ Hade, Emma Jane. "Reporter". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  28. ^ Sullivan, Laurie. "Reporter". Media Post. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  29. ^ Price, Rob. "Reporter". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  30. ^ Pollack, Sorcha. "Reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  31. ^ O'Connor, Niall; Weckler, Adrian (6 December 2014). "Controversial ASKfm will retain anonymity despite links to deaths of bullied teenagers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2015. 
  32. ^ Miller, Joe (25 June 2014). "Can Isis be kept off Twitter?". BBC News. Retrieved 3 March 2018. 
  33. ^ "EU Internet Forum: Bringing together governments, Europol and technology companies to counter terrorist content and hate speech online". European Commission. Brussels. 3 December 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  34. ^ "Fighting Terrorism Online: Internet Forum pushes for automatic detection of terrorist propaganda". European Commission. Brussels. 6 December 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  35. ^ "ASKfm Teams Up with Koko to Tackle Self-Messaging Issues". ASKfm. 23 January 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  36. ^ "New research from The Diana Award reveals crowdsourcing of identity amongst young people due to online pressures". ASKfm. 1 February 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  37. ^ a b "The Diana Award & ASKfm Sit Down With Dr Linda Papadopoulos". YouTube. AntiBullyingPro. 29 January 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  38. ^ "Welcome to ASKfm's Safety Center! Check out our new resources for young people, parents and teachers in partnership with the Diana Award". ASKfm. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 
  39. ^ "ASKfm, The Largest Q&A Social Network, To Launch Its ICO |FinSMEs". FinSMEs. 2018-05-09. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  40. ^ "Bizarre cryptocurrency promotional stunt leads to a man's death on Mount Everest". The Daily Dot. 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  41. ^ "Man dies on Mount Everest during ASKfm cryptocurrency promotional stunt". CNET. 2018-06-04. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  42. ^ "A man died while climbing Mount Everest in a cryptocurrency publicity stunt gone horribly wrong". Business Insider. Retrieved 2018-07-01. 
  43. ^ Binns, Amy (2013) Facebook’s Ugly Sisters: Anonymity and Abuse on Formspring and Ask.fm. Media Education Research Journal . Volume 4, Issue 1. ISSN 2040-4530 http://clok.uclan.ac.uk/8378/
  44. ^ Binns, Amy (2014) Twitter City and Facebook Village: teenage girls' personas and experiences influenced by choice architecture in social networking sites. Journal of Media Practice Vol. 15, Iss. 2, 2014 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14682753.2014.960763 free version available at https://www.academia.edu/9345514/Twitter_City_Facebook_Village_Teenage_girls_personas_and_experiences_influenced_by_choice_architecture_in_social_networking_sites
  45. ^ Magid, Larry (14 August 2014). "IAC's Ask.com Buys Ask.fm And Hires A Safety Officer To Stem Bullying". Forbes. Retrieved 15 May 2018. 

External links[edit]