BeatBullying launches boycott of Ask.fm

In the wake of another Ask.fm bullying victim in the UK, the prevention group BeatBullying is calling for a boycott of the site until they start taking the safety of its users seriously.

From BeatBullying’s press release August 7, 2013:

We want to work with Ask.fm to:
• Improve verification of users’ details
• Strengthen moderation so that cyberbullying issues can be addressed and referred
to the police where necessary
• Make reporting procedures much clearer and ensure a swift response when abuse is
recorded
• Improve signposting to support services for victims of cyberbullying

Until this happens, we’re calling on the public, young people, parents and schools to boycott Ask.fm. We’re also urging advertisers whose funding provides the lifeblood of the site to think very carefully about their advertising spent on this platform.

I don’t think they’re asking too much. They want the owners to take this seriously and get some systems in place like other social media sites have.

I understand that the platform is not the issue, and kids might likely find another outlet, but I struggle to see the good that can come out of using a site like Ask.fm, where users are allowed to post anonymous questions, creating a sort of online “truth or dare”.

This isn’t like Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter or facebook. People can abuse those sites, yes, but they’re mostly using them to spread positivity, connection, and a sense of community. I have yet to see any reputable advocacy groups using Ask.fm as a platform for good. Last semester, my students and I went through and looked at some of our favorite nonprofit websites (including BeatBullying), and noticed that none of them were linking to Ask.fm. None of them.

This is a business. And it’s a business that’s taking advantage of our young people. We have systems in place to keep big tobacco from preying on our youth, and I don’t think this is much different. It looks like the prime minister of the UK has spoken up in support of this boycott, let’s hope all of their sponsors follow suit.

For more information on the Ask.fm controversy, click here.

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