Ask.fm: it really isn’t the problem

9 Aug
the login screen for ask.fm

the login screen for ask.fm

Once again I need to have a political rant aimed at our pm. It’s not that I hate David Cameron, it’s just that at the minute he’s being a fool when it comes to online polices.

One of the biggest news stories in the UK at the minute is another suicide due to cyber-bullying. The death of five teenagers has been linked to cyber-bullying on Ask.fm, a website where potentially anonymous users are encouraged to interact with and question each other.

Now personally the premise of the website is in no way the problem. People all over the world connect using the internet and often start out anonymously or behind a screen name. Through online forums, social networking sites and even through dating sites many users who interact with each other may know nothing more of each other than their screen name or that they have chosen to post anonymously which for me is one of the biggest issues.

With online anonymity many people post differently to how they would post on a website with their real names attached. Even those using their real names often behave differently online compared to how they would respond in real life. I can tell you if I met  the prime minister I probably wouldn’t start having a go at him and It wouldn’t surprise me if many of you reading this have done similar things. “oh god The Simpsons has gotten worse” but if you met Matt Groening you’d probably be nice to him.

The real problem here is attitudes. It’s one thing to make a passive comment about someone, for example: “She looks a bit over done”. However then we come into the online world where it doesn’t end there. It can go on and on, becoming drawn out and turning mole hills in mountains.

“Trolls” and “trolling” are in no way an ask.fm exclusive occurrence. A lot of the time they are refereed to as haters as well and are pretty much everywhere online. It doesn’t talk much scrolling to find someone throwing abuse around on Youtube, Facebook or Twitter. I am lucky enough to have not experienced this directly but sometime ago two of my friends were targeted by the same person on Deviant art. In retrospect it was just someone trying to kill their boredom however at the time it seemed like a pretty dig deal to all of us.

Rather than boycotting a website, which will just move the problem to another website, how about we look at the real problem. Online attitudes. Maybe children should be more heavily educated on the impact of their words and supported through their own problems. I am not blaming anyone in this situation but why at no point has someone noticed what was going on with these kids and how upset they were? Surely they have lives outside of the internet and their computers? (she again says on her blog)

FInally in ask.fm’s defense I will point out two things.

1. At no point in your life are you forced to sign up to this website or any website for that matter. I am not denying their use merely that we can easily survive without it.

The screen cap of the settings that allow you to disable anonymous questions.

The screen cap of the settings that allow you to disable anonymous questions.

2. Ask.fm gives the user the option if they are willing to receive questions from anonymous users or not. Meaning that at some point people need to pay attention to the website they are using.

I understand that this is a subject in high contention and I will agree that Cyber-bullying is a massive problem in the online community and needs to be stopped or at least limited. However we must understand that bullies are bullies and are going to find a way to do what they do no matter what. There have always been bullies and there probably always will be. This is a much more recent experience for myself as I came across problems between my flat mates during my first year of university. I will not go into detail at this time as I am not the person most heavily affected by the situation however  will say I am glad to be rid of it. Above all there is an even bigger problem that is happening in the real world and should be the real concern of our PM and pretty much all other world leaders.

Children are not born bullies nor are they the only bullies. We teach them right from wrong and it is our responsibility to make sure they have the correct understanding of what is right and wrong. We need to make sure that they can comprehend the impact of their actions and words upon others so that they are hopefully less likely to act out.

I hope that none of you reading will ever have to deal with bullying of any kind even though you probably already have. I hope that those involved in the bullying of these victims realise their mistakes and change their ways. I apologise to anyone offended or upset by this post as they may have been heavily affected by the subjects mentioned and I am fully aware of how horrible an experience bullying can be. I am sorry to hear of the losses of these families and wish them well  in the coming years.

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