Ask.fm

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Ask.fm Website Poster Image
Social Q&A site with lots of objectionable content.

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 15 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about social media; Ask.fm provides practice using the medium. Kids also will get a chance to gain communication experience by asking and responding to questions. Some questions could potentially spur them to seek additional information on various topics, providing additional learning experiences. But since other users, instead of subject matter experts, are providing responses, kids also may get incorrect information from the site. Ask.fm gives kids a forum to learn about social media, but its reliance on other users makes its information somewhat dubious.

Positive Messages

Though some users are friendly, compliment each other, others say things such as, "Why are you so rude and ugly?"

Violence

Site will remove content if users report it but doesn't prescreen posts, so there's potential for abusive, threatening behavior. Some users take advantage of service's anonymity to post hate speech, threats. While these are largely empty, they can still be quite vivid, disturbing.

Sex

Some users' photos are racy (provocative poses, cleavage shots); some post explicit comments about body parts, sex acts. It's very easy to find profiles that have images with graphic nudity.

Language

Doesn't screen for language; some users use profanity in answers, including words such as "f--k," "s--t."

Consumerism

Banner ads appear on most pages of website.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some users talk about drinking, drugs. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that you can't register for Ask.fm unless you're 13 -- or say you are during registration. But you can't go back and enter a new birth date once you’ve been denied. The site doesn't monitor content, which opens the door for content that's inappropriate -- and that's very, very easy to find. Bullying has been a major concern in the past; the British news website MailOnline reported that the site has been linked to the suicides of several teens. But Ask.fm has since launched a separate safety site to help teens understand how to adjust their profile settings for additional safety and have a more secure experience. Users, for example, follow each other anonymously. But kids also can be very visible, such as filming and posting video responses to user questions and sharing personal photos on the site. Users can report questions or answers that are violent or pornographic or that contain hate speech. But profiles, at present, cannot be reported. As with many social apps, some users keep things friendly and clean, while others post more offensive content. Both app and website versions of this title are available; our review references key points relevant to both.

User Reviews

Adult Written byworkingmotherof3 January 19, 2014

How can this be legal?

This site gives children an open invitation to vent their anger, insults, bad language, hate.... Teasing, taunting, criticising, bullying... Popular kids use it... Continue reading
Adult Written byLashyun April 3, 2014

Not great.

This is simply another question/answer site. The anonymous questions option is sometimes fun, but sometimes also used to direct hurtful things at other users. I... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byepicboss258 October 5, 2013

depends on how it is use

First off, this is probably not for kids, there's nothing to terrible about it, but It's better to not wander too far out of a certain aspect of the s... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old September 13, 2013

NO PLEASE DONT JUST DONT EVEN

This website is SO bad. I had a account, then someone called me fat, ugly, and stupid and ALSO told me that nobody liked me. Then, my friend got a account. Peop... Continue reading

What's it about?

Founded in 2010, with offices in Ireland, Riga, Latvia, and California, ASK.FM is a social media site where interactions are based on questions and answers. To use the site, you need to register and create a profile; you can then ask a question -- anonymously, if you'd like -- or view questions other users have posted. You can submit written answers or record a video response. Users also can find friends through the site or app or by syncing with Facebook, Twitter, or VK.com.

Is it any good?

While the concept of this site -- 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. There are friendly interactions on Ask.fm -- Q&As about favorite foods or crushes, for example -- but you can't guarantee what kind of response you'll get when you post a question. The social media site has made some moves recently to give users a safer experience, such as offering a site with online safety advice -- but it unfortunately hasn't been able to stop some users from posting negative, inappropriate, and downright mean comments. Kids can turn off anonymous answers and keep themselves out of the live stream, but syncing with Facebook or Twitter means that a much wider audience can see those Q&As, so kids and parents should be mindful of that, too.

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 doesn't appear to be a way to report users directly -- which was particularly disturbing when we found a user whose screen name and avatar image seemed to promote child pornography. 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. Though users can report questions and answers they find objectionable, there's also bullying in some answers. This isn’t an app kids should be allowed near.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cyberbullying and how anonymity can encourage bad behavior. Do you act differently online when your real identity isn't revealed?

  • Review our Social Networking Tips and set guidelines for what's OK to post online and what's off-limits. Do you know why online limits are important?

Website details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love being social and making friends

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