Originally intended as a fun way for teens to anonymously ask each other questions, social network Ask.fm quickly became the perfect platform for people to electronically transmit malicious, electronic communications — to cyber bully others.
Now, Ask.fm has agreed to overhaul its safety procedures in a deal that was brokered between the social network and the Maryland Attorney General’s office, a similar agreement to one that was recently struck between the New York Attorney General’s office and Ask.fm.
Douglas F. Gansler, the Attorney General of Maryland who has criticized the social network for not doing enough to protect its young users, announced that Ask.fm would remove its repeat abusive posters, monitor misuse and harassment reports, and also open new positions in the company for safety and law enforcement liaisons. What’s more, the agreement also creates ways for users to report suspected underage usage on the social network.
“Making the Internet safer for children is of utmost importance, especially in light of far too many instances of cyberbullying and hurtful content that have ended tragically, here in Maryland and beyond,” said Gansler.
InterActiveCorp (IAC) recently bought Ask.fm, and said that it’d invest millions into improving the social network’s safety. Though some are skeptic, IAC does also own such popular websites and apps as About.com, CollegeHumor, Dictionary.com, Investopedia, Match, OkCupid, The Daily Beast, Tinder, Urbanspoon, and Vimeo, so it’s safe to say that IAC’s control will likely take the Ask.fm into a safer direction.
“We wouldn’t be becoming involved in this if we didn’t think that there was a bunch more things we could do to make it significantly safer,” said Ask.com CEO Doug Leeds.
The new agreement with Marlyand gives Ask.fm six months or less time to to put most of these measurements in place.
Gansler went on to say, “The commitment by Ask.fm to quickly review complaints and ban users who repeatedly post offensive or harmful material will create a more hospitable online atmosphere that will diminish cyberbullying.”