Type of site
|Social Q&A website|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Key people||Ade Olonoh|
|Industry||Social networking service|
|Alexa rank||22,482 (June 2015)|
|Registration||Required to post responses and questions|
|Launched||November 1, 2009|
|Current status||Defunct, URL redirects to Twoo|
Spring.me was a social networking service. Until a rebranding in 2013, it was known as Formspring, a question-and-answer-based social network launched in 2009 by Ade Olonoh, the founder of online form builder Formstack.
As of August 1st, 2015, the website has become a portal of Twoo; Humor Rainbow Inc does not disclose whether the original contents still exist.
Formspring was launched in Indianapolis in November 2009 by the founder of online form builder Formstack, Ade Olonoh. He noticed that most of their users were using the service to create "ask me anything" forms and decided to launch a separate site to make this easier. At launch, Formspring was referred to by its full URL, formspring.me, to distinguish it from Formstack, which was at that time also called Formspring.com. Formspring.me gained 1 million registered users in its first 45 days, so the original Formspring website was renamed to avoid confusion between the two sites.
Formspring was soon spun off into a separate company and moved to San Francisco, California. Due to its sudden popularity, a number of websites quickly implemented similar features, such as ASKfm, Tumblr, and MyYearbook's "Ask Me" services. On June 3, 2010, Formspring launched a major redesign, overhauling every aspect of the website.
In response to its growth, Formspring received a $2.5 million series seed round of funding from a large group of angel investors, including SV Angel, Lowercase Capital, Kevin Rose, and Dave Morin. In January 2011, it received an additional $11.5 million series A round of funding from Redpoint Ventures and Baseline Ventures. To further guide the site's growth and explore revenue streams for the company, Formspring named Rogelio (Ro) Choy as COO in April 2011. On June 28, 2011, Formspring announced that its 25 millionth user had signed up.
In June 2011, Formspring launched features for celebrities to better communicate with their fans, including verified accounts. Celebrity Formspring users can be found on the site’s “Formspring Favorites” section, which categorizes verified users by music, comedy and various entertainment verticals. In November 2011, Formspring launched a media partnership program, partnering for the first time with media outlets including MTV, Hearst, Funny or Die and The Huffington Post.
Users of the site can follow others privately. While logged in as a registered user, people can also ask questions to his or her followers from the homepage. Spring.me also asks one question per day named "Formspring Question of the Day" which is flashed in user's inbox. In January 2011, Spring.me added a smile button which acts similar to the Like button on Facebook.
Also in January 2012, Formspring launched two additional features to the service. One new tool allows users to sort responses to questions by the number of "Smiles" received in order to bring the most liked content to the top of response streams. The added functionality aims to give users the power to curate the best content on the site. In addition to letting users see their top smiled responses, the new feature allows Formspringers to view top responses from other users and also see the most smiled responses to a question that was asked to multiple people at once. The second new functionality launched gives Formspringers the option to choose whether they want to publicly or privately follow the accounts of other users. As part of this feature, Formspring users are now able to see how many others on the site are following their account.
Formspring has garnered some controversy, especially among teenagers, for the perception that it opened the door for harassment and bullying, due to the anonymity of the entries. A fight between several students at a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania high school, which started after an argument over Formspring, received some media attention in February 2010. On March 12, 2010, a news article, which later turned out to be a hoax, said that the creators planned to reveal personal information about their users spread on Twitter and other social networking sites. Formspring has stated on its company blog that it will never publicly reveal anonymous information of its users. On March 22, 2010, a 17-year-old West Islip, New York high school graduate committed suicide, reportedly after dozens of insulting comments about her had been posted on Formspring in the days leading up to her death. Soon after, a local grassroots boycott of the Formspring site began.
A further incident of suicide allegedly prompted by bullying on Formspring was the untimely death of 15-year-old Natasha MacBryde, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, United Kingdom. The Coroner's inquiry heard that she received anonymous personal abuse via the website on 13 February 2011; this appears to have compounded bullying and teenage anxiety into a level where, having researched suicide methods, Natasha took her own life on 14 February 2011. According to the Daily Telegraph: "Det Sgt Shanie Erwin told the inquest that Natasha was known to have received a short anonymous message containing personal abuse via the Formspring networking site on February 13. The message, which was read to the jury by Det Sgt Erwin, derided Natasha for “hiding” behind make-up. It ended: “Start acting nicer to people or you will lose everyone. Mark my words.”
Another incident of bullying involving anonymous harassment on Formspring was reported on in September 2011. A fourteen-year-old student, Jamey Rodemeyer, from Williamsville North High School in New York state, United States, committed suicide on September 18, 2011, after repeated incidents of bullying in real life and on Formspring. Rodemeyer's "It Gets Better" video specifically calls out Formspring as contributing to the anti-gay bullying impacting his life.
Formspring participated in a March 2011 White House Conference on Bullying Prevention along with MTV, Facebook, Survey Monkey and others. At the conference Formspring announced that it is working with The MIT Media Lab to develop new approaches to detect online bullying, and to design interfaces which help prevent it or mitigate it when it does occur. In January 2012, Formspring also announced that it was a sponsor of the Great American NO BULL Challenge, a nationwide video contest that encourages teenagers to stand up to bullying.
The concept of Formspring was copied by the creators of Ask.fm, who used the same format of allowing anonymous questioning by people who knew each other offline, which some experts believe is a toxic mix that will inevitably lead to trouble for some users. Both sites have been linked to several teenage suicides.
Closure and rebranding
Formspring announced it would be closing over the months of March and April 2013. The reason for the closure was that "it's been challenging to sustain the resources needed to keep the lights on."
According to the announcement, asking questions on Formspring would be disabled on March 31, 2013, and the entire site would be shut down permanently on April 15, 2013, after which, all content on the site would be deleted.
On March 31, 2013 a short updated statement was released which stated "Great news! We have a last-minute deal in the works that will help keep Formspring up. More details to follow in the coming week."
On May 8, 2013 a statement on the main page was issued stating; "5/8/13 – Great news friends, Formspring has been saved and is now under new management. Get ready for some cool and exciting new features. Stay tuned for more updates and happy posting!!". In May 2013, Spring.me acquired the assets of Formspring. Spring.me was officially launched in beta in September 2013 and launched publicly in November 2013.
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