Founded on June 16, 2010, the increasingly popular website ask.fm has raised some concerns among parents, users, and their peers alike. Similar to the formerly popular website formspring.com, ask.fm is a social networking website that allows users to create an account and answer questions posed to them by anyone with access to their link. After experiencing a similar bout of fame, formspring.com quickly lost popularity as insults and ridicule became intollerable for users and viewers alike. What allows the site to cause so much damage is that those posing questions have the option to remain anonymous. Hidden behind the anonymity of a computer screen, users are able to post horribly disrespectful and unkind comments that serve no purpose other than to damage the recipient’s self esteem.
With little to no screening of the questions and comments submitted, cyber bullies are free to post anything from lewd questions to derogatory comments about a person’s habits, looks, personality, etc.
“It’s asking for cyberbullying,” said Mountain View High School freshman Samantha Rubinstein. The website provides a forum for bullies to express their unkind opinions without the repercussions of a face to face confrontation. Much like heavily discussed facebook pages such as “MV Bops”, this website allows users to submit comments and questions that insult the individual via the internet; their remarks are publicized to a significant number of users via social media, adding insult to the injury.
Not only is the use of such sites to bully someone cowardly and cruel, it is also illegal, according to California state law. According to Bill AB86, enacted in 2008, specifies that bullying includes “sexual harassment, hate violence, or severe or pervasive intentional harassment, threats, or intimidation and that are committed personally or by means of an electronic communications device or system.” Cyber bullying is punishable by school officials; it gives the school grounds to suspend or expel a student.