Ask.fm revises safety policy after user suicide

The Report button, which Ask.fm says it will make more prominent in future.

Privacy is something millions of people hold dear, though in the UK media there has been a backlash against question-and-answer websites due to links with cyberbullying. One of the main reasons for this backlash came after the suicide of a 14-year-old girl, who had been receiving abusive messages on Ask.fm, which is based in Latvia.

Yesterday, the site's revised safety policy was picked up on by the media, with reports indicating that the policy could come into effect as soon as September. The revised policy elements, listed below, seem to have helped swing round opinions that the site should be shut down.

  • Hire more staff, including a safety officer, to moderate comments on the site
  • Create a "bullying/harassment" category for reported comments, alongside "spam or scam", "hate speech", "violence" and "pornographic content"
  • Raise the visibility of a function to opt out of receiving anonymous questions
  • Limit the number of features unregistered users were able to access, and require an email address upon sign-up for registered users

Some aspects of the policy could have been predicted easily enough, like altering the position of the Report button. As can be seen in the above picture, it is not very visible. One interesting policy change will be the addition of more staff, specifically dedicated to handling cyber-bullying.

Ask.fm is lucky, in that it was not forced into closure. Formspring.me had garnered criticism as well, though shut down earlier this year due to a 'lack of resources'. Having changed its URL, Spring.me's new appeal is that it allows users to 'share their opinion on anything'.

Source: BBC

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