What Parents Should Know About Ask FM
What is Ask FM (also known as Ask.fm)? What Parents Should Know
First of all, what is Ask FM? Ask FM is a free app and website that allows users to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile. You can sign up by creating an account through Ask FM or sign in using a Facebook or Twitter account. The app makes it easy to share content on other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Users have the option of cross-posting questions and answers on their Facebook and Twitter feeds and even operate the Ask FM app from within Facebook.
How Ask FM Works
After creating an account, Ask FM users have the option to fill out more personal information and pictures of the user. Check to ensure that your child does not put personal information on their Ask FM profile. Once the link is shared on the internet, the profile is public and anyone can ask anonymous comments or questions. Users can also search for people they already know and enter usernames and emails to find friends.
Additionally, once a profile goes public, users can “follow” other users and ask questions, but unlike Twitter, for example, a user can never know who is following them, just their overall number of followers. The home page is a stream of questions and comments, and there are daily and random questions to answer on the site. In fact, a user can choose to ask the question anonymously or allow their profile information to show when they opt out of the ‘ask anonymously’ function.
What is Ask FM Doing to Protect Children?
The main concern with Ask FM is the anonymous content and that there is no monitoring by Ask FM. What is Ask FM doing to make the site safer for children? Well, nothing. Since the site allows for anonymous, unmonitored content, it is increasingly being used for cyberbullying, sexualized content, and other abuses. The easy integration with Facebook and Twitter makes the content extremely easy to access.
Let’s be honest, with an underdeveloped frontal cortex lobe which results in impulse control issues, most kids and teens (and yes, even some adults) have impulse control issues. Apps like this do not generally result in positive interactions.
Privacy, Blocking & Reporting
There are privacy settings for Ask FM. A user can go to the privacy tab and select from different setting options to make the account less accessible and less anonymous. You can choose:
- To not get anonymous questions
- What email notifications you will get
- For your answers to be private so that do not show up on the “Stream”
- To curate “Blacklist” of blocked users who are prevented from asking you a question
To block a user, navigate to the right hand side of each question and click on the small block symbol, choose your reason for blocking and click the Block button. Once blocked you will not get questions from that person. However, even if a user is blocked that person can still access your profile and view other interactions. Users can also remove questions on their profile by clicking on the cross in the top right hand corner.
Additionally, you can make reports of inappropriate content even if you are not a user. If you move your mouse over a post on a profile, there is an option to click on a drop down arrow which allows you to report a post for four different reasons: spam or scam, hate speech, violence, and pornographic content.
Helping Protect Kids Online
Bark is not currently able to monitor Ask FM, but we can tell you which apps your child has downloaded. Anonymous chat apps can pose risks to your child, to it's important to start a conversation that will help them understand how to stay as safe as possible online. Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and platforms for potential issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more. Sign up today to get a free, one-week trial!
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Bark is a comprehensive online safety solution that empowers families to monitor content, manage screen time, and filter websites to help protect their kids online. Our mission is to give parents and guardians the tools they need to raise kids in the digital age.