What is Ask.fm?

Founded on June 16th, 2010, Ask.fm is the brainchild of Russian brothers Ilya and Mark Terebin, the sons of a wealthy former Soviet Red Army serviceman. Both graduates of the Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration in the capital of Latvia, where they grew up, they began their careers setting up a furniture business. However, they soon realized that the Internet offered a more lucrative path for business and money-making. Using the American question-and-answer website “Formspring” as a mode, Ask.fm was launched, and it rapidly expanded. In 2013, it had 80 million users posting 30 million questions and answers a day.

The website, available in thirty one languages, makes £16,000 a day out of advertising revenue, as well as allowing companies to pay for questions which can be targeted at users. Most of the ads are targeted depending on user demographics, such as age and location; such advertisers include Nespresso and clothing company Isme.

According to this source, Ask.fm is now number 173 in list of the most visited websites in the world.

What is Ask.fm ‘s Features List?

–          Ask.fm allows the user to get asked and post questions from anonymous users online.

–          It also allows users to record video using a webcam and post an answer to the question.

–          Ask.fm has a feature where users can tag other users by putting @ symbol followed by the username.

–          Following several complaints and cases of cyber bullying and harassment on the website, Ask.fm updated its privacy settings and it now allows the ability to disable anonymous questions.

–          Ask.fm now introduced a new feature called “Popular!” which allows users to discover new interesting people to follow.

–          Starting June 2013, Ask.fm now has both iPhone and Android applications

What is Ask.fm ‘s List of  Security Issues?

Anonymity

The element of anonymity has allowed Ask.fm to become a haven for some cyber bullies, who have the ability to target their victims online without the fear of ever being discovered. Following several cases and losing advertisers because of the wave of cyber bullying related suicides caused by Ask.fm, the website recently updated its privacy settings and now allows the ability to disable anonymous questions. It also introduced a reporting feature where even non-anonymous questions can be reported and their IPs tracked.

Phishing/Sexual Predators

Sadly, with the advent of the video feature, more teenagers are encouraged to post videos in answer to questions, thus revealing their faces, bodies and information about their whereabouts which makes this website a haven for sexual predators.

Children must be at least 13 years old to sign up to the site, but there’s nothing to stop them lying when registering — which takes seconds. The site asks only for a name, email address and date of birth. Most teens sign up via their Facebook pages, automatically notifying their ‘Facebook friends’ that they’ve joined Ask.fm, which allows their otherwise nice Facebook friends to show another side of them where they harass and bully their friends anonymously.

-According to their website “The ask.fm service allows for anonymous content which ask.fm does not monitor. You agree to use the ask.fm service at your own risk and that ask.fm shall have no liability to you for content that you may find objectionable, obscene or in poor taste.”

While according to them, you must give a reason for blocking a user, that does not mean the person you block disappears for good. A blocked person can still access the profile to view all other interactions.

In Their Privacy policy, Ask.fm states clearly that you cannot adjust or increase privacy setting like Facebook.

In response to PM Cameron’s call for changes at Ask.fm, the company issues a statement that isn’t clear and was deemed offensive to some, Founder Mark Terebin said, ‘We only have this situation in Ireland and the UK most of all. It seems that children are more cruel in these countries.’

As Ask.fm is based in Riga, Latvia, Authorities in U.S. and British usually find it quite hard to gather data from the site for court cases.

If you feel someone you love, is being cyberbullied on ask.fm, we invite you to check our resources on the matter. Such as Defining Cyber Safety Issues Related to Ask.fm and Ask.fm and Cyber Bullying.

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