What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Ask.fm is an app companion to the popular website. Users ask questions and answer questions posted by other users. The site doesn't monitor content, which opens the door for content that's inappropriate -- and that's very, very easy to find on the site. There are also concerns about bullying. Users can, however, report questions or answers that are violent, pornographic, or contain hate speech. (Profiles, at present, cannot be reported, though. (We found one user who appeared to have posted nude pictures of a minor, and even direct contact with the app maker's support team took several days for it to be removed.) As with many social apps, some users keep things friendly and clean, while others post more offensive content.
What kids can learn
What Kids Can Learn
Ask.fm wasn't created with educational intent, and we don't recommend it for learning.
What's it about?
User interactions are based entirely on questions and answers. Create a profile, then ask a question or find questions other users have posted on their pages. You can follow the stream of questions as they're posted, view the most popular questions, and find friends through searching the app (which ties in with the site) or syncing with Facebook and Twitter.
Is it any good?
While the concept of ask.fm -- encouraging people to learn more about their friends and foster a curiosity in others -- is a good one, not all users embrace that line of thinking. The app is unmoderated, which makes it a Wild West-like environment. Within five minutes, we encountered hate speech, obscenities, people singing the praises of illegal drugs, and graphic nudity (with many sexual references). There's also bullying in some answers, though users can report questions and answers they find objectionable.
It's worth noting, though, that there does not appear to be a way to report users directly. That was particularly disturbing when we found one whose screen name and avatar image seemed to promote child pornography. While the app does not have a reporting mechanism for this, we reported it to company officials -- who still did not remove the profile for several days and said they would not alert law enforcement authorities about the user. This is not an app kids should be allowed near.