Ask.fm Anonymous Messaging App Review

What’s the worst thing you can imagine as a parent? A stranger privately messaging your child within close physical proximity!
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Description:

Ask.fm is an anonymous messaging app. Anonymous messaging implies just what it says. Users can send and receive messages anonymously.

There are recommended age restrictions, but there is no true age verification process in place (which is practically impossible anyway). Users simply self-avow that they are old enough to create a profile.

Details:

Ask fm Details from GreatCity

From a Parents Perspective:

Ask.fm is a smartphone app that allows the user to create an account and then to send and receive anonymous messages from other Ask.fm users. There is also a webpage that can be used to access these same functions. On the Apple App store Ask.fm is rated 17+ which is an appropriate rating for this app. According to the Apple store, it receives this rating because of:

  • Unrestricted Web Access,
  • Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence,  
  • Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco, or Drug Use or References,  
  • Infrequent/Mild Mature/Suggestive Themes,  
  • Infrequent/Mild Profanity or Crude Humor,  
  • Infrequent/Mild Sexual Content and Nudity

Notice that the term “infrequent” in front of each of those statements. That may or may not be the experience your child has with this app.

In 2013 an article written in Buzz Feed linked cyberbullying on Ask.fm to 9 suicides the previous year. One of the founders of Ask.fm responded to the criticism. His reply can be found at the end of the Buzz Feed article. I found his reply extremely disheartening.

According to one article, “there are no private accounts on ASKfm. Your child will not be able to see who is following them, and everything they post can be seen by everyone. Explain this to your child. It is also critical that your child understands that their profile is public and searchable beyond ASKfm. Their profile picture, background picture, and posts are searchable on Google. Given this, it is critical that their profile name does not contain their first or last name, even though the app will automatically generate a user name with their real name upon account creation. If your child links their ASKfm account to their Facebook account, friends will still be able to find their profile.”

Anonymous messaging has proven repeatedly that it is fertile ground for cyberbullying. A registered user of Ask.fm receives a personalized link that can be shared, for instance, on social network sites like Instagram or Facebook. If your child does not have their other social networking profiles set to private, this would open them up to the possibility of immediate personal contact with random strangers including stalking or harassment.

The “Shoutout” feature of Ask.fm allows a user of the app to send messages specifically to other users within close physical proximity.  What would be the worst thing you could imagine as a parent for your child? How about a stranger of any age, gender, etc. having the ability to privately message your child while also knowing that they are within close physical proximity? Does that sound like the worst idea you have ever heard of? Me too. It is possible for your child to set their profile to not receive “Shoutout” messages which are those based on close physical proximity.

Summary:

According to Wikipedia, Ask.fm has over 215 Million users. Your child should not be one of them.

If your child does use Ask.fm the Bark solution monitors Ask.fm (affiliate link) content and sends a parental alert when inappropriate words are detected. It is the next best thing to not using Ask.fm at all.

Similar Apps:

Whisper – From BUZZSAW “…the anonymous forum has been dying out after all of its board members stepped down from their positions last year.”

Yik Yak – From Business Insider “…Yik Yak will be shutting down its anonymous chat app in the next week as the school year draws to a close, the company announced.”

Secret – April 29, 2015 founder David Byttow closed down the app and company, claiming the way that people were using the app including the spreading of malicious rumors was not what he had originally envisioned.

Sarahah – Banned from Apple and Android in the summer of 2018

Lipsi – See my post here about Lipsi.

Related News:

9 Teenage Suicides In The Last Year Were Linked To Cyber-Bullying On Social Network Ask.fm

Other Parents Comments:

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A Short History of Ask.fm

According to Wikipedia: “The site was founded in 2010 in Riga, Latvia. Its headquarters was moved to Dublin, Ireland following its 2014 acquisition by IAC (who also own Ask.com). In 2016 IAC sold it to Noosphere Ventures, a California-based asset management firm.”

Website: https://ask.fm/

Other Reviews, Sources, and Reference:

Common Sense Media Review

Protect Young Eyes Review

Bark Review

Other:

From Common Sense Media:

Ask FM Common Sense Media

Details from Google Play Store:

Ask FM Google Play Details
Ask FM Reviews Google Play Store

About the Author:

Terry has been an entrepreneur in the IT industry for over 30 years. Go here to read his complete personal story, “Husband, father, Grandfather and IT Executive.” If you want to send Terry a quick message visit the contact page Here.

If you would like to receive weekly email updates about how to talk to, monitor, and control your child’s digital experience, please join our mailing list below.

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Terry Preece

Terry Preece

Husband, Father, Grandfather, and IT Executive

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