Social media

Parents raise concerns over social network Ask.fm

Nov. 6, 2013 at 11:23 AM ET

Video: The social network Ask.fm, which enables users to post questions that people can anonymously answer, is rapidly gaining popularity among teens. But after a 12-year old girl committed suicide, citing Ask.fm in her suicide note, parents are concerned that the site may not be safe for their children. Michelle Kosinski reports from Latvia, where Ask.fm is headquartered.

While Facebook, Twitter and Instagram rank as the most popular social networks among teens, another website that many parents may be unfamiliar with continues to make the news in a very bad way. Ask.fm., a Latvia-based social network where members interact by inviting others to ask anonymous questions, has been linked to at least 10 teen suicides involving cyberbullying. 

"Most recently, we saw a 12-year-old girl in Florida kill herself after bullying on the site ... one Irish teenager actually named Ask.fm in her suicide note," TODAY correspondent Michelle Kosinski said Wednesday morning. 

Reporting from Riga, Latvia where the three-year-old social network's small office is located, Kosinski pointed to comments made to kidnap victim Hannah Anderson on Ask.fm, where she hosted a forum 48 hours after her rescue. "Drink bleach" and "Go die" were just two comments received by the girl whose mother and brother had been murdered.  

While the Ask.fm founders refused to meet with Kosinksi, she pointed out that the site made changes in August. "You can report bullying, easily block anonymous posters," she said. Ask.fm also says it's hiring moderators and making incentives to register at the site, which would make it easier to track identity of the bullies. In a statement to TODAY the social network said that "Ask.fm is committed to doing everything it can to protect its users and stamp out bullying or any other kind of abuse."

Which social network does your child use most?

NBC News’ Tamron Hall shared some analytics on where teens are hanging out online. You can weigh in here on which sites kids use most in TODAY Discussions. 


Video: NBC News’ Tamron Hall shares some analytics on where teens are hanging out online and asks viewers to weigh in on which sites their kids use most.

More on kids and social networks:

Helen A.S. Popkin is deputy editor of Technology & Science at NBC News. You can find her on Twitter and/or Facebook.


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