Heads Up! It’s being called the most dangerous website in the world for teenagers.
Last week more than 500 students in Russellville stayed home from school following threats posted on this “relatively new” social media site. This stuff is shocking and a MUST READ if you have kids.
The website is called Ask.fm. It’s based in the country of Latvia which means US laws don’t apply. This social networking website allows users to ask other users questions, with the option of anonymity. It’s this anonymity and un-moderated Q&A forum that has been criticized by many parents and anti-bullying organizations. As an example, questions like “Why are you a loser?” “Why are you ugly?” etc. are common on the site. Ask.fm is not well-known by many adults, but it has been associated with instances of cyber bullying in teens and a series of bullying-related suicides. Despite all of this it’ one of the fastest growing websites in the world for over 80 million users. KATV 7 in Little Rock did a story about the website, that you should take a look at.
Some things you need to know:
- The unique selling point of Ask.fm is its guarantee of anonymity, with the website recently telling its followers on Twitter it will never release the information of anyone who posts to the site.
- “The site contains sexualized, abusive and bullying content”
- The fact that you can ask someone whatever you like or post anything on their profile without revealing who you are, seems to heighten the levels of disinhibition often associated with young people communicating online.
- In other words, we tend to say things to people online that we wouldn’t say to their face – this is exaggerated when we communicate anonymously.
- The result is that liberally scattered amongst the questions about celebrity and lifestyle are highly sexualized, abusive, and downright nasty questions and comments.
- The site also raises many issues around privacy. It has very few privacy controls which mean that both questions and answers can be viewed by anyone, even non-users of the site.
- Safety and privacy information is published on the site, however, there is no requirement to read any of this when signing up.
- This is the default setting and there doesn’t appear to be an option to change this: once a post is published it is publicly accessible.