ask.fm is a popular social networking website that allows users to anonymously ask questions to other users – and this power starts a conflict. The anonymity seems to inspire the worst in people, leading to posts that are provocative, and obscene. In the past, some posts caused victims of this type of cyber-bullying to commit suicide, including 16-year-old Jessica Laney. Despite this danger of harassment, the website is still frequently used by high school and middle school students.
Ben, a student at Scarsdale Middle School, claims that about 85% of his friends have an account. "ask.fm does have some fun features that let people find out users' interests or funny stories. But, I have seen the site cause problems because of rude comments which is why I avoid the website," he said. ask.fm allows rumors to be quickly spread through the Internet, as well as through schools or towns. "People would say embarrassing things about others that weren't true and would make the person look bad," said Sarah Abbe, another Scarsdale Middle School student who recently deleted her account, "I think the website should be banned because it just isn't safe."
Scarsdale High School students are active on the site as well, often linking their ask.fm accounts to Facebook or Twitter, which allow even more people to view and ask sometimes vulgar questions. "Although the site can fuel bullying, it also promotes honesty," said Lawrence Rosenstadt a Scarsdale High School student, "the bullying part can be prevented if there were no option to ask anonymous questions on the website; I think that should be changed."
The anonymity of the site creates a perfect environment for users to express how they really feel, without the fear of getting caught. "When there is a computer screen between people, exchanging cruel messages is easier because of emotional disconnection," said Jennifer Walker the Co-President of Rockland County Psychological Society and a high school psychologist. Walker advises parents to be aware of their children's activities on the Internet, as some website accounts can lead to harassment. She suggests the best way for parents to be involved is by demanding a password for a child's social networking account. "Cyber bullying is happening a lot... It is a community as well as a parenting issue," she said.
Examples of questions I've come across on different ask.fm accounts:
I'm gonna f*** you with barbed wire and rusty nails
I have one class you and you're so nice and pretty and we should talk!
Would you hook up with Johnny, Michael, or Joe?
Who is the hottest girl in 7th grade?
Can I ask a boy out or does he have to ask me out?
You seem nice and have great style... I want to get to know you better but I'm too scared to talk to you in person.
Are you gay?
Why are you friends with John? He's a loser.
If you were stuck on a deserted island with one person, who would you want it to be?
Stop being so conceited and you're so f******* annoying
Are you a virgin?
I wanna put you in a ocean naked and see crabs bite you
Your girlfriend is disgusting
Would you kiss, f***, or marry Jane, Danielle, or Caroline
Don't listen to the haters!
This article was contributed by Scarsdale High School sophomore Isabel Klein