Let’s start with a basic explanation of Ask FM. So what is it?
Ask.fm is an anonymous question and answer platform website used regularly by lots of young people around the world. It allows anyone to post anonymous comments and questions to a person’s profile and is increasingly being used as a means to communicate abusive, bullying and sexualised content.
Ask Fm is a great social media platform when used properly. unfortunetely the downside to Ask FM unfortunately is how easy it is to bully someone on the platform. A user can sign up anonymously and ask anonymous questions that show publicly on someone’s profile.
The example on the right shows the right way to use the platform but as you can imagine if a child is prone to bullying or other abuse… it can be bullying central.
Okay, so let’s talk about the dangers of Ask FM.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #1
A 14-year old girl was found hanged in her bedroom after receiving hate messages on her ask.fm page where they told her to cut herself, drink bleach, and kill herself. In this social media platform, the users are allowed to ask questions while remaining anonymous. Although some of the bullies were identified and some even revealed themselves to say sorry, the teenager had already took her own life because of Ask Fm bullying.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #2
Another young girl took her life after being bullied online. Only 12 years old, the girl jumped from the top of a factory located in Florida. She was found dead at the abandoned cement factory one early morning. According to investigations, she endured more than a year of being bullied online. Prior to her body being found, she changed her Ask Fm page to “That Dead Girl.”
Ask.fm Suicide Story #3
A 15-year old boy also hanged himself, allegedly because of Ask Fm. He was found in a Lancashire Village at his family’s farmhouse, dead because of hurtful messages on his page. He was called a freak and was told several times that no one liked him. Some even said that he deserved to have sick things happen to him.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #4
A 17-year old also hanged himself just last July. He was blackmailed by a person he thought was a girl and was having an online relationship with. Not only was he involved in an extortion scam but he also received harsh comments saying that he should kill himself. One message even said that he should let a blade meet his throat.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #5
Another teenager from Florida hanged herself last year during the Thanksgiving weekend. The 16-year-old was asked by an anonymous user on the social media site about what she thought about suicide. She responded calmly and even posted some videos where she got some compliments. However, along with those praises came cruel messages telling her how ugly she was and even pried into her personal life. Ask Fm bullying claimed another victim.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #6
In September 2012 a 15-year-old girl from Ireland also committed suicide because of devastating Ask Fm bullying. She was found in the woods near where she lived. Before she killed herself she even spoke to some of her about suicide since she was being bullied. She was told over and over that she was fat and that she had no respect for herself.
Ask.fm Suicide Story #7
A girl of 13 also from Ireland killed herself and left a note about it where she mentioned being bullied and harassed on Ask Fm. What is even sadder is that her older sister who was 15 years old also committed suicide because she could not cope with living without her young sister. She also left a note for her mother where she said that negative things happen for good reasons and she hoped that they will see each other soon.
So as a parent you’re probably wondering what can you do to prevent this?
First look at the signs:
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Unexpectedly stops using phone or computer
- Appears nervous or jumpy when an Instant Message, text message, or Email appears
- Appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after using phone or computer
- Becomes abnormally withdrawn from usual friends and family members
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
- Expresses reluctance or refuses to participate in activities previously enjoyed
These signs aren’t just linked to Ask Fm, these are typically general signs of bullying, online abuse and CSE. (Child Sexual Exploitation)
Now let’s talk about what can be done, here are a few things to try:
- A break from social media is always good. If you find your child is getting stressed with their phone or computer this might be a suggestion to them
- Explain to your child that bullies want a response, so the best way is to ignore them and report it. Retaliation will show the bully it bothers you.
- If the harassment’s coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments you can block the person from ever contacting you.
- Having as little personal information on your profile as possible is best when using social media.
If you have any questions or concerns about Ask Fm or any other social media platforms feel free to drop me an email: Jordan@nwgnetwork.org
Author: Jordan Simmonds
Date August 2016