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Is closing askfm the answer?

**helen****helen** Deactivated Posts: 9,235 Supreme Poster
There's no question that this is a sad and disturbing story of suicide -
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/aug/06/hannah-smith-online-bullying

I just wondered whether or not closing down a website is the answer? Mostly what I've heard about askfm comes from you guys in live chats, so as the insiders, do you agree or disagree?
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Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    what amazes me is that these sites are more closely moderated. with the recent twitter stuff for example, surely there must be some way of keeping an eye on whats being put on there and stopping the people responsible?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If ask.fm were closed then another similar website would just be opened in its place. When I was younger there was a function on bebo that would let you send anonymous messages and it gave teenagers the same opportunity to be thoroughly nasty to each other. There's also things like Little Gossip that let you post anonymous 'harmless' gossip...
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think it all comes down to responsible use, give teenagers access to anonymous sites like that and there's always going to be trouble. I would never have set one up when I was at school because I knew I might get abuse if it fell into the wrong hands. Not that excuses the actions of the bullies. Why didn't she close the account? Was she getting abuse through other channels too or was it just this? Was she experiencing other troubles? I don't think it's as cut and dry as it seems.
    I do think more monitoring is needed if people must use them. But quite frankly I think some common sense is needed when using them too, it works both ways.
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    If it had happened over the phone by withholding their number would they want to close down the phone company?

    Everything can be abused, I don't think that's grounds to ban something. What needs to be done instead is whoever abused it to be found and stopped.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Why bother going on the site at all if you know you're just going to be on the receiving end of shite?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    If it had happened over the phone by withholding their number would they want to close down the phone company?

    Everything can be abused, I don't think that's grounds to ban something. What needs to be done instead is whoever abused it to be found and stopped.

    Well it's different in that the main purpose of ask.fm is to be an anonymous cunt to people...
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    grace wrote: »
    Well it's different in that the main purpose of ask.fm is to be an anonymous cunt to people...
    I sincerely doubt the company has that as their aim.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I sincerely doubt the company has that as their aim.

    Well obv, it wouldn't make a very good advertising slogan really. But it's an 'anonymous Q & A website' so it's mainly used by cowardly teenagers being nasty to each other..
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    grace wrote: »
    Well obv, it wouldn't make a very good advertising slogan really. But it's an 'anonymous Q & A website' so it's mainly used by cowardly teenagers being nasty to each other..
    Who are abusing the service. Unless there are no legitimate reasons to want to ask or answer something anonymously.
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    Relevant part of their terms:
    • You shall abide by all applicable local, state, national and international laws and regulations and be solely responsible for all acts or omissions that occur with respect to your use of the ask.fm service and/or under your account or password, including those related to the protection of intellectual property, data privacy, international communications and transmission of technical or personal data. By way of example, and not as a limitation, you will not, directly or indirectly:
      • Transmit or encourage the transmission of unlawful, harassing, libelous, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar, obscene or otherwise objectionable material of any kind or nature;
    Anyone who posts abusive messages is clearly going against the terms of use. The problem isn't that askfm exists, it's that apparently these posters were not reported (if such a function is available) or that the administrators didn't find them in time and, if a reporting function isn't available, the lack of it.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I can sympathise with the idea that a website might be shut down for something like this. After all, if the management of any other business happily stand by and allow illegal activity to occur without doing anything to prevent it, they get closed down, so why should websites be any different? The owners of any website have a responsibility to ensure that no illegal activity occurs on it, although in the case of harassment, they obviously have to be made aware of it by the victim before anyone can expect them to do anything. I obviously don't think the first step should be to close down a website, although I do think that some training or friendly advice from the police might be in order. But if this website happens to be a repeat offender, then I see no problem with it being shut down any more than a website that fails to adequately remove child porn should be shut down. But there's a massive danger with removing the anonymity too, because that's one of the main strengths of a website like this one. No-one's going to ask embarrassing questions if their full name is forever attached to it for everyone to see. But requiring proper moderation on websites (especially ones aimed at vulnerable young people) should be no more controversial than requiring bouncers in nightclubs.

    However, one thing I always find very strange in these cases is how the victim keeps going back on the website. There's some strange psychology going on there. A long time ago, I went out with a girl who was 17, and she was getting abusive text messages. And yet despite this, absolutely every time, she insisted on replying to them, despite me telling her to ignore them, and her knowing that that was the best way to stop them happening. Text messages and phone calls are a bit different, because they're more difficult to ignore, but surely with a website, you have to be actively going on it to see these messages. I mean do people already feel this way about themselves and then basically seek out confirmation?
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    I can sympathise with the idea that a website might be shut down for something like this. After all, if the management of any other business happily stand by and allow illegal activity to occur without doing anything to prevent it, they get closed down, so why should websites be any different? The owners of any website have a responsibility to ensure that no illegal activity occurs on it, although in the case of harassment, they obviously have to be made aware of it by the victim before anyone can expect them to do anything. I obviously don't think the first step should be to close down a website, although I do think that some training or friendly advice from the police might be in order. But if this website happens to be a repeat offender, then I see no problem with it being shut down any more than a website that fails to adequately remove child porn should be shut down. But there's a massive danger with removing the anonymity too, because that's one of the main strengths of a website like this one. No-one's going to ask embarrassing questions if their full name is forever attached to it for everyone to see. But requiring proper moderation on websites (especially ones aimed at vulnerable young people) should be no more controversial than requiring bouncers in nightclubs.
    Exactly this. If it's a repeat offender (I've not heard about it before) and still doesn't have a reporting mechanism and/or a lack of people or will to investigate such reports, then yes, I'd agree with the premise.
    do people already feel this way about themselves and then basically seek out confirmation?
    I think you just hit the nail on the head. And there's lots of people who'd offer that confirmation for no other reason than that they think it's fun(ny).
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I agree with IWS on this one, I find it weird that people would keep on going back to the website. Perhaps though there is a way for ASKfm to be able to allow the questions to be anonymous, but still require some kind of account which can be traced and/or deleted if abuse is reported. I'm guessing I find it difficult to understand the whole situation because I'm never quite been in such a bad place, but is this possibly down to parents (in general) not being aware of the dangers and talking to their kids about it?
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    G-Raffe wrote: »
    Perhaps though there is a way for ASKfm to be able to allow the questions to be anonymous, but still require some kind of account which can be traced and/or deleted if abuse is reported.
    The accounts aren't anonymous, I imagine that the administrators can see who posted what even if the users can't.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    You can ask questions without registering.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Like most things on the internet, it is pseudonymous. Identity can be found if necessary, but why would the website owner be interested? If they had to investigate every single nasty comment someone makes on the internet, they'd never sleep.

    I'm terribly sorry for this man's loss, I truly am, but banning things is not the answer. It never has been and never will be.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    She's 14. Did the parents not monitor her use or anything like that?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Melian wrote: »
    She's 14. Did the parents not monitor her use or anything like that?

    Do any parents actually 'monitor use' or is it just something that people bang on about when something bad and internet related happens to a teenager?? I never knew anyone who's parents actually looked at what they were doing..
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    grace wrote: »
    Do any parents actually 'monitor use' or is it just something that people bang on about when something bad and internet related happens to a teenager?? I never knew anyone who's parents actually looked at what they were doing..

    Not sure. My parents have seen some of the websites I go on though.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I've said this about a dozen times on different forums and I hate to repeat myself. But the internet is the equivalent of the 'wild west' and there are no all powerful cyber police. Twitter, 4chan, and other sites that allow anonymous account creation coupled with the ability to easily harass others need to be flagged as 'potentially dangerous hangouts'. Twitter, unlike 4chan, has a veneer of authority - it does seem like a 'legit' site. But I can with a script create hundreds of accounts easily and use those accounts to harass people en masse. I have in the past used scripts to create farms of twitter accounts (for mostly innoccuous reasons). It was as simple as entering a captcha and hitting submit, then the next captcha.

    I agree with Melian really, kids need to be monitored on the internet, and adults need to be educated that some forums that are unmoderated are going to get them grief, instead of crying about it and posting it in the Guardian everytime as if 'anonymous internet trolls said horrible things' is news.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    grace wrote: »
    I never knew anyone who's parents actually looked at what they were doing..

    My computer was in the living room, not my bedroom. They didn't "monitor" me exactly, but of course they could see what I was up to.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    My computer was in the living room, not my bedroom. They didn't "monitor" me exactly, but of course they could see what I was up to.

    Yeah so was mine. But teenagers have laptops and smartphones now so the only way to monitor someone is to look through their phone or computer which demonstrates a lack of trust rather than a desire to help with problems, I'd say.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Teenagers only have laptops and smart phones if parents give them access to them.

    Restricting use of both of those is still within the realms of parental influence. Laptops not allowed in bedrooms for example.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I have to say I kinda agree with SM but not sure I'd want to try and molly coddle my kids. But I wouldn't want them seeing what I saw this morning on tumblr, either. And yet tumblr has a similiar 'friendly' image that would draw a lot of parents in.

    Using my wild west analogy (I like it ;)) though, how would you parent your kids in a semi lawless semi anarchistic place? I think more places like thesite where a) the information is actually researched and factual b) UGC / discussions are moderated to maintain a 'high bar' for content would actually provide safer places for children online.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    As much as the website should be more closely monitored, there is still that option to take away the option of "anonymous" which really frustrates me when people get this type of hate.

    Thought a go to Hannah and her family though *hug*
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    This has caused me to be more upset than I should be by this..
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    As much as the website should be more closely monitored, there is still that option to take away the option of "anonymous" which really frustrates me when people get this type of hate.
    Posting anonymously (for the public) has legitimate uses. Posting without registering though, shouldn't be allowed, specifically so that the admins have somewhere to begin if they need to know who posted something.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    There's still the option in the settings bit to take away the anon messages so you'd only receive messages from people who aren't afraid to not be anon, of that makes any sense.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    At some point with children you have to let go and hope you've taught them enough that they don't get hurt too bad - whether that's letting them walk to school with their friends or have a computer in their room when you can't see what they're doing.

    Cases like this are extreme and I suspect its not just a case of cyber bullying...
  • Indrid ColdIndrid Cold Posts: 16,688 Skive's The Limit
    There's still the option in the settings bit to take away the anon messages so you'd only receive messages from people who aren't afraid to not be anon, of that makes any sense.
    Another good idea. Does that already exist?
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