Controversial Latvian anonymous question and answer website Ask.fm has announced stricter safety measures after calls for boycotting it went global following the suicide death of UK Teenager Hannah Smith. Learn more on the new safety measures of cyberbullying on Ask.fm.
The anti Ask.fm Anonymous Cyber Bullying Safety measures look like an endeavour to calm down the fury stemming from several reports of cyber bullying related suicides on the network.
According to this resource, Ask.fm called in the law firm Mishcon de Reya to conduct an audit of the site and its safety features after the girl’s death, in an attempt to increase the anti Ask.fm Anonymous Cyber Bullying safety measures.
Following the audit, it was announced that for more anti Ask.fm Anonymous Cyber Bullying safety measures, the site would make the “report” button more visible, including bullying or harassment as a report category and investigate any reports of abusive behaviour within 24 hours. Users will also be able to report spam, scams, hate speech, violence and pornographic content.
Ask.fm said it will raise the visibility of the button to opt out of receiving anonymous questions, hire more staff to moderate content on the site and create incentives for users to register to lower the risks of Ask.fm bullying.
Ask.fm did require a simple email registration for profiles but did not allow reporting of abuse or the reveal of identities or locations of abusers when contacted by Hannah Smith’s father who said his email was blocked by the administrators of the website.
By requiring users to register for full access to the service, Ask.fm said it would be able to capture the email and IP addresses of users and be better equipped to deal with reports, all of the above helping to majorly enhance anti Ask.fm Anonymous Cyber Bullying Safety measures.
The father of 14-year-old Hannah Smith from Lutterworth, Leicestershire, welcomed the changes but said they had come too late, according to the BBC.
David Smith called on the UK government to do more, such as introducing regulations to prosecute web users who are abusive on the internet.
The UK Safer Internet Centre has advised young users to switch off anonymous questions and to report any abuse they see.
In the latest statistics released it is said by internet research company Comscore that in July 2013, 1.4 million people in the UK visited Ask.fm.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has called for a boycott of all websites that fail to tackle online abuse.
In July, he announced that the UK is to block online pornography by default to all new internet users, who will have to ask for filters to be turned off if they want to access it.
All existing users will be contacted by their internet providers by the end of 2014 and given the option to activate “family friendly” filters or not.
This week, it emerged that another teenager, 17-year-old Daniel Perry, had been urged to kill himself by anonymous users on Ask.fm in the months leading up to his death.
Ask.fm Anonymous Cyber Bullying: What is Ask.fm?
Founded on June 16th, 2010, Ask.fm is the brainchild of Russian brothers Ilya and Mark Terebin, the sons of a wealthy former Soviet Red Army serviceman. Both graduates of the Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration in the capital of Latvia, where they grew up, they began their careers setting up a furniture business. However, they soon realized that the Internet offered a more lucrative path for business and money-making. Using the American question-and-answer website “Formspring” as a mode, Ask.fm was launched, and it rapidly expanded. In 2013, it had 80 million users posting 30 million questions and answers a day.
The website, available in thirty-one languages, makes £16,000 a day out of advertising revenue, as well as allows companies to pay for questions which can be targeted at users.
According to their website “The ask.fm service allows for anonymous content which ask.fm does not monitor. You agree to use the ask.fm service at your own risk and that ask.fm shall have no liability to you for content that you may find objectionable, obscene or in poor taste.”
While according to them, you must give a reason for blocking a user, that does not mean the person you block disappears for good. A blocked person can still access the profile to view all other interactions.
In response to PM Cameron’s call for changes at Ask.fm, the company issues a statement that isn’t clear and was deemed offensive to some, Founder Mark Terebin said, ‘We only have this situation in Ireland and the UK most of all. It seems that children are crueller in these countries.’