Ask.fm Website Poster Image

Ask.fm

Social Q&A site with lots of objectionable content.

What parents need to know

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. 

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.

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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

Subjects:Language & Reading: discussion, presenting to others
Skills:Tech Skills: social media
Genre:Social Networking
Topics:Music and sing-along
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Ask.fm was written by

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySapphireWatermelon September 22, 2013

Be. Careful.

If you do choose to make an account, DISABLE ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS. Seriously. I was told on my profile that my friend and I were annoying, to f**k ourselves up, and that everyone hated us. Meanwhile, my classmates throw around swear words and sexual jokes. This site WAS good for picking up on a lot of gossip, though, but you should disable anonymous questions if you decide to sign up.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
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 site. Unless you have a friend with an ask.fm account, it is not very active. Strangers tend to not bother people they don't know and stay in a group of people they know, but there's still about a 7% chance that a random person will contact you. Even though it's a website where you answer people's questions, it's surprisingly safe from people outside of the site. It's almost impossible to find someone unless they know about the site and they have an account (and you can't get on the website unless you have a link, which is impossible to find unless the user post it elsewhere.) That's not to say the security is flawless. Keep in mind that it is a site where you get questions from others, and though ridiculously hard to track, it's not impossible. But it's not like the user is powerless to stop the person from asking questions, they can block and report a user. But for younger kids, it's not likely that they will know what the best thing to do is. But the big point is what it is being used for. Unless you are using it because your a popular youtuber, or you use it for a Q&A page, there aren't a lot of reasons to have an ask.fm page anyway.
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. People call her things that I can DEFFINITELY not put on here cause of guidelines. They are also telling her to kill herself. Mind you, WE ARE 11 AND 12. She acts like everything is fine when I know she is dying inside.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns