I’ve been reading about ask.fm lately. The buzz is about teens that have committed suicide after being bullied on the site. For all the teens that resort to suicide, often after being urged to kill themselves by anonymous bullies, there are many, many more that are living in fear and despair. Anonymity allows teens to act on their worst impulses. I couldn’t help but think of the soul-crushing guilt or loss of conscience that the bullies must feel when they face the very real consequences of their cruelty. Heaven forbid, that my child, or yours, could be that bully. Chicagonow.com has posted an article telling us what we need to know about ask.fm, including the following:
- As is true of Facebook and Twitter, you must be 13 to use it.
- Ask.fm allows anonymous objectionable content, which it does not monitor.
- Therefore, it’s being used for the worst type of bullying and sexualized content.
- Users can’t increase privacy settings, as you can with Facebook and Twitter.
- Ask.fm content can be linked to Facebook and Twitter, increasing the spread of the bullying.
- “A user can disable his/her account, even if the password is forgotten.” Kids have been known to lie about that.
- One user can block another, but the person can still view any interactions under any profile.
Action YOU can take: Find out if anyone is posting hurtful or sexual things. Ask if these “friends” are friends in real life. It’s OK to insist on transparency…sit down and take a look at your teen’s account. Advise your teen, “Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your family to see.”