Type of business Social networking
Type of site
Social Q&A website
Available in Azerbaijani, Indonesian, Malaysian, Bosnian, Danish, German, Estonian, English, Spanish, Tagalog, French, Croatian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Hungarian, Dutch, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Finnish, Swedish, Vietnamese, Turkish, Czech, Greek, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Mongolian, Russian, Serbian, Ukrainian, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Bengali, Thai, Georgian, Japanese, Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Korean (January 2015)[1]
Founded June 16, 2010 (2010-06-16)
Headquarters Riga, Latvia
Area served Worldwide
Owner Noosphere Ventures[2]
Founder(s) Mark Terebin
Industry Internet
Slogan(s) Where the world wants to know about you[3]
Alexa rank Negative increase 283 (June 2015)[4]
Advertising Yes
Registration Required to ask questions and post responses
Users 160 million[5]
Launched June 16, 2010 (2010-06-16)
Current status Active

ASKfm is a global social networking site where users create profiles and can send each other questions.


The former logo of ASKfm

The site was founded in Latvia and launched on June 16, 2010,[6] as a rival to Formspring.[6] It has since overtaken the latter in terms of worldwide traffic generated[4][7] with 150 million monthly unique users as of March 2015.

The site was purchased by in August 2014 with the intention to "focus on turning around the philosophy of the company and putting trust and safety first."[8]

Since the acquisition, the company has made a number of changes toward its goal of improving the safety of its users. These include parting ways with ASKfm founders, Mark and Ilja Terebin, whom CEO Doug Leeds described as having a "laissez-faire" approach to safety[9] and proactively partnering with the New York Attorney General[10] and the Maryland Attorney General[11] in the creation of a multi-step plan to turn the site around. ASKfm has since launched its first-ever Safety Advisory Board[12] of which John Carr OBE, Anne Collier, Marsali Hancock, Brian O'Neill and Justin Patchin are board members, as well as a new Safety Center[13] which includes specific tools, tips and guidance for teens, teachers, parents and law enforcement. In February 2015, under the direction of Chief Trust and Safety Officer Catherine Teitelbaum, ASKfm sponsored its first Safer Internet Day[14] and launched a #nobullies campaign[15] to drive awareness of the company's no tolerance policy for abusive behavior on the ASKfm service.[16]


In mid-2013, before bought ASKfm, the site was the subject of several media articles regarding cyberbullying that have been linked to suicides.[17] This was largely in response to widely reported cases of anonymous offensive messaging and suicides apparently resulting from such bullying. The site courted controversy by not having workable reporting, tracking or parental control processes, which have become the norm on other social media websites. Now owned by, the site has a complete set of reporting and blocking features as well as an updated Terms of Use and Privacy Policy which details the ground rules of using ASKfm.

At the time, existing leaders Mark and Ilya Terebin responded to the allegations by stating that they did have a reporting feature and employ a number of moderators to fight cyberbullying. Accordingly, the site had a "sexually explicit comment" monitor staffed by moderators; however, no comments were ever deleted, even for explicit threats. This was a major cause of criticism.[18] Under management, ASKfm has significantly expanded filters with key words and language patterns and has improved automated moderation. Human moderation has grown to 24/7 coverage and is catching 40% more user posts for human review.

On 6 August 2013, it was reported that Hannah Smith, a 14-year-old girl from Leicestershire, England, had killed herself, and that her father blamed her death on bullying responses she had received on the site. He called for tighter controls against social networking sites like ASKfm, saying that he had seen the abuse his daughter had received and it was wrong that it was anonymous.[19][20] The Smith family calls were echoed by the parents of Goosnargh, Lancashire teenager Joshua Unsworth, who was reported to have been "cyberbullied" on the site prior to his suicide.[21] The company responded by stating it was 'happy to help police'.[22]

Following the suicide of Hannah Smith, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a boycott of websites that don't take responsibility for dealing with cyberbullying on their sites.[23] Several advertisers responded by severing links with the site, including (amongst others) Save the Children,[24] eBay and BT. Vodafone had already stopped advertising on the site.[24]

However, the site is still popular and growing. ASKfm has 150 million users, 25 billion answers and 49 languages.

Since has acquired ASKfm,[25] it has relocated its headquarters to Dublin, Ireland[26] and spent millions of dollars to establish the infrastructure and process to improve safety. As part of its relocation to Ireland, ASKfm officials met with the Department of Children[27] to assure the proper steps are being taken to "significantly improve" protections on the website. Aine Lynch of the National Parents Council said she met with the new owners of ASKfm at their request and that "they seem to be really going through the site to try and make sure that it's moderated better and that postings on it are more responsible."[27]

However, some experts believe that the combination of offline contacts who know each other well, and the availability of online anonymity is a toxic mix that will inevitably lead to problems for some users.[28] [29]

See also


  1. "ASKfm Languages". Retrieved 2015-01-12.
  3. "About.ASKfm". ASKfm.
  4. 1 2 "ASKfm Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-06-26.
  5. Blake, Jonathan (8 February 2015). "ASKfm owners 'considered shutting down' social network". BBC Newsbeat. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  6. 1 2 Kenins, Laura (14 November 2012). "Latvian Web site at center of cyber-bullying inquiry". The Baltic Times. Riga. Baltic News Ltd.
  7. " Site Info on Alexa". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  8. Isaac, Mike (14 August 2014). " Buys, an Anonymous Q.&A. Start-Up". New York Times Bits Blog. Retrieved 4 March 2015.
  9. Pollak, Sorcha. "Reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  10. Schneiderman, Eric T. "Attorney General". Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  11. Frosh, Brian E. "Attorney General". Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  12. Hade, Emma Jane. "Reporter". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  13. Sullivan, Laurie. "Reporter". Media Post. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  14. "Community Members". Safer Internet Day. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  15. Gardner, Will (9 February 2015). "ASKfm support Childnet". Childnet International. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  16. Ensign, Emily (12 February 2015). "Reflecting on #SID15 and Looking Forward to a Better Internet Ahead". iKeepSafe. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  17. Beckford, Martin (13 January 2013). "Pupils and parents warned social networking website linked to teen abuse". Daily Mail. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  18. Sarle, Dmitri (13 May 2013). "ASKfm Responds To Cyberbullying". ArcticStartup. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  19. Smith, Hannah (6 August 2013). "Hannah Smith death: Father says daughter was victim of cyberbullies". Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  20. Shute, Joe. "Cyberbullying suicides: What will it take to have ASKfm shut down?". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 6 August 2013. Retrieved 6 August 2013.
  21. Joshua Unsworth's parents call for ban on notorious website ASKfm Lancashire Evening Post
  22. "Hannah Smith: ASKfm 'Happy To Help Police'". Sky News. 6 August 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
  23. Coyne, Ellen (8 August 2013). "Cyberbullying websites should be boycotted, says Cameron". Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  24. 1 2 Chapman, Matthew (9 August 2013). "Save the Children leads ad boycott of ASKfm following suicide tragedy". Brand Republic. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  25. Price, Rob. "Reporter". Business Insider. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  26. Pollack, Sorcha. "Reporter". The Irish Times. Retrieved 5 March 2015. External link in |website= (help)
  27. 1 2 O'Connor, Niall; Weckler, Adrian (6 December 2014). "Controversial ASKfm will retain anonymity despite links to deaths of bullied teenagers". Irish Independent. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  28. Binns, Amy (2013) Facebook’s Ugly Sisters: Anonymity and Abuse on Formspring and ASKfm. Media Education Research Journal . Volume 4, Issue 1. ISSN 2040-4530
  29. Binns, Amy (2014) Twitter City and Facebook Village: teenage girls' personas and experiences influenced by choice architecture in social networking sites. Journal of Media Practice Vol. 15, Iss. 2, 2014 free version available at

External links

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