Anonymous Ask.Fm has serious consequences

Adeline Davis, Back Page Editor

The typical bully used to be characterized as a hulking kid who pushed people around on playgrounds and stole lunch money. However, with the dawn of social media, bullies can no longer be pegged by their glares or threatening fists. Up until the creation of Ask.fm, bullies  attacked their victims face to face but had to be careful of Facebook usernames revealing their identities. Ask.fm quickly became a bully’s paradise when it added the anonymous button to the mix.

Ask.fm was created on June 16, 2010. The site’s anonymous feature and lack of privacy settings quickly appealed to teens, resulting in 21 million views by November 2012. According to Nobullying.com, Ilya and Mark Terebin, the creators of Ask.fm, based the site off of American question and answer websites. Users are able to ask anything they want to anyone, without the other person knowing who it is. Many questions start out as harmless, however things get ugly when they start getting too personal or verbally abusive.

“People ask a lot of sexual questions like how far you’ve gone or what color underwear you’re wearing,” freshman Riley White said. On Ask.fm, the line between appropriate and inappropriate disappears.  Questions become primarily based off of hormones, allowing pages to be filled with sexual harassment.

Buzzfeed.com states that in the past two years there have been nine different suicides all related to Ask.fm harassment. On Oct. 27, 2012 13 year-old Erin Gallagher was found dead after being teased about her weight and appearance. Only two months after her death, her 15 year-old sister, Shannon Gallagher, committed suicide because she could not bear living without Erin. In Pasco County, Florida on Dec. 11, 2012, 16 year-old Jessica Laney hung herself. One of the last comments posted on her Ask.fm page read “you have pretty eyes but you’re fat.”

Due to the anonymous option on the site, the police have not been able to successfully track down the cyber bullies. After the death of 12 year-old Hannah Smith, her dad started protesting for the site to put in a “report button,” enabling users to report any cyber bullying they witnessed or received.

The site needs to be shutdown. Giving users an anonymous name to hide behind allows vulgar comments to surface, comments that would never be said face to face. Ask.fm takes cyber bullying to an even crueler level.

Ilya and Mark Terebin continue to insist that the site itself is not the problem, they believe “education and moral values” play a big role in the way teenagers treat each other.

Despite the site’s obvious downside, many users like the unrestricted social interaction it provides. Before Ask.fm, if a guy wanted to know if a girl liked him he would have to either ask her through texting or face to face. Thanks to Ask.fm, guys can simply type in their question and wait for an answer, without the awkwardness of actually talking to the girl.

According to The Atlantic Wire, Ask.fm has become one of the fastest growing social media sites in the world. Protests are still being made for the site to be shutdown.

A few weeks ago, a new update was added to the Ask.fm app, taking the anonymous button off. Hopefully, this new app will be put permanently into effect, putting an end to Ask.fm’s deadly mark.

 

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