CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - As tweens and teens flock away from Facebook to other social media sites, parents may have a tough time keeping up. The critical item you need to take away from this is they are all fun, easy to use, and could lead to oversharing.
Ask.fm is another website teens are finding themselves visiting. It is a Question and Answer site that has more than 57 million users. It's incredibly popular and easy to use. Anyone can go online and ask questions about any topic.
Cyber Expert Theresa Payton says the ease of use means ease of oversharing so the social media rules for other popular sites apply here too.
Theresa's advice, along with a statement from Ask.fm, follows:
The website is available in over 20 languages
You can stay anonymous or post your name in your Q&A session
You can exchange photos, videos, snapchats, kiks, and more
Primary audience is roughly 13-25 years of age based on registrations
You do not have to have an account to read the feeds
There are privacy options - you can turn off anonymous questions or block users
The site bans obscene, vulgar, and abusive posts and has a process to report these if their site moderator misses them
The site has a program that looks for sexually explicit posts but it cannot catch everything
Talk to your kid about the dangers of oversharing, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking
Be where they are - if they are using Ask.FM, then you need to be there too
To read Ask.FM's Safety Tips, click here.
WBTV reached out to Ask.fm in response to parents concerns. They sent us the statement below:
"Ask.fm is a place where people can have fun, share information, make friends and express themselves freely. What makes our site unique, and a reason why our users love it, is the opportunity to ask questions anonymously. The majority of our users are teenagers and the anonymity option provides them with a platform to form and share opinions without the fear of being judged.
We know that our users appreciate this as the vast majority of questions asked on Ask.fm are done so anonymously. It is vitally important to us that they are able to do this in a safe and secure way. We also understand that not everyone wants to receive anonymous questions. That is why every user has the ability to opt out of receiving them.
Every day millions of our users ask each other questions without revealing their identities. This does not mean that those users are unaccountable, or that they should be free to abuse others. Only a very small number of people abuse this function but, as part of our safety controls, even if a user chooses to ask questions anonymously, in almost all cases it is possible for us to identify who and where they are.
We recently announced a series of changes to Ask.fm to ensure that our abuse and inappropriate content reporting systems are among the most effective in the industry.
We are pleased to say that many of these changes are already in place and we are working hard to ensure the rest are implemented as soon as possible.
The preeminent online child safety expert, Annie Mullins OBE, is reviewing all of our policies and advising us on the best way to keep our online community safe.
Sadly, bullying can take place anywhere, so it is important that we, parents and users work together to fight it. As such, our reporting facilities have been improved and are now more prominent.
Anyone can report inappropriate content, no matter where on the site they see it. We now have an 'in-question' reporting function, which enables our users to highlight any question they find inappropriate with just one click.
If a user sees something that isn't right before we do, we would ask that they help us stand up to bullies by reporting it. Any complaints made about this kind of abuse are prioritised automatically and our team of moderators are committed to dealing with them as soon as possible.
Ask.fm is committed to doing everything it can to protect its users and stamp out bullying or any other kind of abuse."