I Don’t Care How Popular Ask.fm Is, This ‘Popular’ Tween Website Needs To Be Shut Down

Ask Fm Cyberbullying Kids I’ve been ranting about Ask.fm for a while now and there are a flurry of new articles where websites have just discovered this popular cesspool of slut-shaming and cyber-bullying aimed at the 13-25 year old set. I loathe this website, and I don’t care if it can be argued that tweens and teens need a place where they can communicate online with each other, either under the guise of anonymity or not, because the truth of the matter is – they just don’t. So many of us grew up without the Internet, without chatrooms, without websites like this or Tumblr or Instagram and we turned out just fine. The difference between these other social media platforms and Ask.fm is that Ask.fm encourages kids to be utter assholes.

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It’s a cesspool. And these are just screencaps I grabbed quickly but there are thousands of them, kids talking about suicide, about underage drinking and drug use, calling each other sluts and whores and accusing each other of all sorts of bad behavior. And a lot of times, they are doing it anonymously. From CNET.com:

Ask.fm is a 3-year-old question-and-answer app that’s wracked up 57 million users and is adding members at a rate of 200,000 a day. It’s spreading from kid to kid, infiltrating middle schools and high schools the same way that mobile sensations Instagram and Snapchat have.

The Latvian-run platform, launched in June 2010, resembles predecessor Formspring and offers a Web and mobile space where people create profiles so that anyone, not just other members, can ask them questions. The service was essentially a European clone of Formspring until the latter shifted focus in July of last year. Since then, Ask.fm has added about 50 million users.

Today, Ask.fm has ballooned into a parent-free digital space where kids go to goof off and escape the built-in accountability of Facebook. According to brother co-founders Mark and Ilja Terebin, Ask.fm is big in Brazil, the U.S., Italy, Russia, the U.K., Germany, Turkey, Argentina, Poland, and France, though it has a presence in 150 additional countries.

 

The article closes with:

For now, a parent’s best hope is that kids tire of Ask.fm and move on to the next app.

And no, that is NOT a parent’s best hope. You don’t hope your kids get sick of this website and move on to something else, you shut this shit down immediately. I really don’t understand parents who feel like their only option is to “wait it out.” if your kid has an account on this website, unless you are policing it constantly, chances are they are being asked creepy questions or getting comments on their uploaded selfies, and not just by people they know, users of any age from all over the world.

It’s one thing for kids to be bullied in public, at school, by their peers. That is horrible. But by letting your kids have accounts like this, chances are if they are being bullied it will continue online. And chances are if they aren’t being bullied, by having an account like this where other people can ask them anonymous, intrusive questions or post anonymous comments, they will be asked things that harm their self-esteem. I know our kids aren’t delicate snowflakes and they will encounter jerks in their lives, but isn’t our job as parents to protect them from this stuff?

Maybe I’m old-fashioned and pearl-clutchy about this website, but I really don’t see anything positive about it.

(Photo: Monkey Business Images/shutterstock)

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    • Tea

      Tumblr has a similar issue, with the peer pressure to keep anonymous questions always on which leads to a lot of casual cyberbullying/trolling/general asshattery.

      • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

        But you can turn the anonymous questions off on Tumblr, can you do that on Ask.fm? I’m asking because I don’t care to go onto that website, they don’t need my traffic

      • Tea

        I’m not sure. I know you could on formspring, but much like tumblr, it was looked down upon by people/peers of that age group as making you a “chicken”. Granted, I’m a grumpy old man on tumblr who doesn’t care what the kids these days think so long as they stay off my lawn.

      • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

        Again, I’ve never heard of anyone being considered a chicken, and shit, if you REALLY want to bully someone THAT badly you can make a fake profile, it’s not like they ask for your social.

      • T. R. Wexler

        Yes, you CAN turn off the anonymous asker option. If you go to ‘Settings’ then go to to the ‘Privacy’ area, the first thing on that page says “Privacy Setting for Questions” and it has 2 options: “Allow anonymous questions” and “Do not allow anonymous questions”. Click the do not allow option and voila! No more anonymous questions. Easy.

    • Amber

      Why can’t parents take some responsibility and monitor their children instead of shutting down websites?

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        because they are lazzzzzzzzy. and they don’t. So shut this shit down before another girl kills herself over it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

        That’s the weird thing, too. I was called a slut both online and to my face, I got threatened online a lot and even beat up in person. I never committed suicide though. Okay that’s a lie, I tried once, but that had nothing to do with being bullied.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I’m really sorry you went through all that

      • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

        It’s not that bad, I swear as soon as I graduated high school my life just became so much better is almost every way.

      • Fluffy_1

        I got called a slag while at school. I went to an all girls school with bitches who couldn’t handle the fact that I didn’t want to talk to them and instead, went over to talk to the boys at our brother school. That and the fact that I had boobs and wore a proper bra at a time when all my contemporaries were still wearing vests apparently made me a slag.

        I didn’t commit suicide over it either, cuz, get this, it’s a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Oh, and the bullies who tormented me at school were always telling me to kill myself. I was damned if I was going to do what they told me to.

      • Beth

        Wow is that a load of crap. Why don’t we shut down every single website on earth because someone, somewhere might be “not nice” to someone else. Parents have to take responsibility at some point. My girls have software installed on their computer that allow me to remotely monitor them from my laptop. Somehow, working fifty hours a week I can still keep track of my daughters and make sure they are staying out of trouble online. Laziness is irrelevant. Shutting down websites because shitty parents can’t be arsed with keeping track of their kids is ignorant.

      • whiteroses

        Because every single kid on that site doesn’t 1) have parents or 2) have parents that care. Because of that, the parents that DO care need to keep their ears out for things. Once a website encourages kids to be terrible to their peers (like they don’t do that enough already) we should all take a long, hard look at it.

        Our own personal kids aren’t the only ones that matter.

      • Fabel

        Yeah, I don’t see why anonymity should be banished, or why entire websites should be shut down, just because parents aren’t properly monitoring their child’s online activity.

      • once upon a time

        Thirded.

      • Kitten

        Seriously, u are so right

    • http://www.whatwouldshethink.com/ Rachelle

      Ahhh, the wonders of monitoring. Best BELIEVE this mommabear is going to be ninja with her daughter’s internet use. My dad used to check in on my own posts back in the days where we used these things called BBSes (billboard systems). I fully expect to control my daughter’s usage the same way. Until she’s 18 and legally responsible for her own self.

    • Abendwind

      Maybe they could go smoke some alcohol instead of using that website.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        Mmm smoking alcohol

    • Once upon a time

      Uh, what was so wrong with the screen capped examples?

      • http://www.facebook.com/RetiredSceneQueen Emmali Lucia

        One girl was talking about Don’t call me fat and ugly because I know I am! blah blah blah anonymous people telling me blah blah

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I think a 12 yea old talking about self harming and a 13 year old being so negative about herself is troubling

      • once upon a time

        Sure it’s troubling, I’m just not seeing the cesspool you’re describing. I actually think that it could be a good medium for parents to find out what’s on their children’s minds, and the things they need to be discussing with them. This doesn’t take the lazy parents into account, of course.

      • Tusconian

        It’s troubling, but it’s not indicative that the website is the source of the bullying or slut shaming (although anything that mixes anonymity and adolescence will do that in one way or another). It’s indicative that adults need to be paying more attention. Whether or not these kids are correct or not, they often fear saying these things to parents or teachers will somehow make it worse, or that the adults in their lives won’t believe them. It’s usually not rational, but I remember friends imploring us to not tell teachers or parents about self-harm, eating disorders, and suicide attempts because their parents will totally kill them and make it worse. Fact is, most 13 year olds think their parents are hideously abusive, uncaring monsters who’s sole purpose is to ruin their lives, even when the result of telling the adults resulted in actual professional help and more loving attention from the parents. For less serious matters, most kids are honestly often correct about not openly coming forward about bullying, because it generally sounds like no big deal from an adult perspective. If a grown person looks at a cute 12 year old who says “so and so calls me ugly,” they’ll think “their classmate is just jealous Surely all the other kids find this child just as precious as I do, so it’s an isolated incident, and no big deal.” Or, they’ll tell the victim to “defend themselves” with some cliche about sticks and stones, or passively tell the bully to stop it, and I mean it, 87 strikes and you’re out, buster! The examples show things that are going on in these kids’ personal lives, and those things would still go on if this particular site went away. It seems like some of them are using this as a means to get their feelings out. Even though the feelings are unhealthy, and bullying is probably going on, saying “no shut up, this site must be banned because that encourages these girls to express their feelings” is not going to help anything. The only solution is for parents and teachers to be more involved with their kids.

      • footnotegirl

        I think a 12 year old talking about self-harming, even in an anonymous site, is so much better than a 12 year old hiding it from everyone and keeping it their festering secret.
        Of course it’s better if they can talk to their parents about it, but sometimes letting those words out to a stranger can make it easier to approach the people you love.

    • Emma

      As someone younger, DON’T shut these sites down. Many kids feel trapped and alone and anonymous websites give them an opportunity to release and vent.
      It is a parent’s responsibility to make sure their kids are okay. Talk to them and make sure they are happy and healthy, don’t just shut down things that make you uncomfortable.

      • http://sarahhollowell.com/ Sarah Hollowell

        This. Having places online where I could go vent anonymously/semi-anonymously were freaking vital when I was a teen – and they still are. I love my parents and we’re very close, but they don’t have and will never have my Tumblr because it’s my private space. If I didn’t have that, I would be much worse off.

        Also, the screencaps you posted are just kids being asked their ages and also kids venting – they aren’t even being asked negative questions or being bullied. I would say the ones talking about self-harm and having such extremely poor self-esteem need some help and therapy, but these hardly prove your point. They actually argue against it. Clearly these kids are aching for somewhere to be able to honestly talk about their lives, and this site’s providing it for them.

        I’m sure shitty stuff goes on there, but that doesn’t mean you should shut it down. Shitty stuff goes on EVERYWHERE. Deal with the shitty stuff itself instead of blaming the entire website.

      • http://www.xojane.com/author/eve Eve Vawter

        I love you young people having opinions on this

    • Justme

      I’m torn on this one. On one hand, I see the devastating effects of technology in the lives of teens everyday. The amount of drama and the level to which it escalates in a short amount of time is surely brought on by the unlimited access to technology that many teenagers have today. You would be amazed at the theatrics that can occur in one 5-minute passing period just because of a couple of texts.

      So there’s that aspect that I absolutely despise about technology and am so thankful I didn’t have to deal with when I was growing up.

      Then there are also those kids in my school that don’t “fit in” or don’t have a support system at home and anonymous forums like this are crucial to their survival of the teen years. Logging onto Tumblr and other sites like it can provide a community and safe haven for kids who don’t have either of those things in real life.

      I think it comes down to this: with great power comes great responsibility. When we give our kids the power to use the internet, we must teach them to use it responsibly as well as monitoring their behavior responsibly too.

    • China

      Dumbest shit EVER. Keep ASK.FM. There’s nothing wrong with the website. If you can’t handle it don’t be on it. Enough said. Grandparents/Step Parents/ Parents should watch their kids more closely. If you don’t want them on the website then block the website. Don’t ruin it for everybody and you’re screencaps have nothing to do with your point. Those we’re not even negative. So what if the girl expressed her point about being depress. People picked on her in real life. Therefore, your argument is INVALID.

      • China

        *your

      • Fluffy_1

        Plus, there’s an easy solution if you’re getting picked at on Ask.fm. Don’t go on there again. Simples.

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