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Cyber-Bullying Concerns Raised With New Website

School officials say Ask.fm site offers few protections for students.

According to a letter sent to Warren Middle School parents earlier this week, some of the school's students are using a new social website to ask and post information and comments about other students.

But unlike Facebook, the letter warns that Ask.fm does not offer any privacy controls whatsoever, and doesn't limit who can post or inquire about a student.

The result is a new fear for school officials charged with trying to prevent online bullying that predators and others can access the site and student information.  

"The nature of many of the comments is highly inappropriate while others appear to be typical middle school banter," Warren Middle School Principal Robert Comba said in the letter. "Of concern is the fact that students can pose as other students and make false comments."

Comba added the "greater concern" is that predators can gain access to students through the site by appearing to be other students. Consequently, parents are asked to be sure to monitor their children's web browsing since the site is usually accessed from home. 

"We do not believe that the benefits of this website for our students outweigh the risks and do not feel that it is a place that any of our students should be visiting," Comba said. 

The website launched in 2010 in Latvia, as an "interest-based social Q&A website," where registered users can asked questions of other users. The site has come under attack in several European countries for enabling cyber-bullying that some blame for a recent spate of teen suicides.  

Comba's efforts may have helped: a search for "Warren, NJ" on the site found only five registered participants, and a search for Warren Middle School yielded none. 

Larry Pearce January 18, 2013 at 06:13 PM
How is it the Warren Middle school sends out a letter that some of the students are using a site....but in a search for Warren, NJ turned up five....but none from the middle school........you can't have it both ways!
John Patten January 18, 2013 at 08:17 PM
A search for particular students might have yielded much different results, but perhaps a number have closed their accounts this week after the school sent the letter.
Adelaide Maisy January 21, 2013 at 08:39 AM
Precisely the reason why I installed a free app called Qustodio on my home computer a while back. I do need to watch what my son is up to when online and the app actually allows me to watch the profile pictures of accounts that he chats with on Facebook as also the websites he visits. Google for it.
Ron Gustaveson January 22, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Webcam Spying is a BIG part of Cyber Bullying. The best way to protect yourself and kids from webcam spying is to use a Webcam Cover. C-SLIDE makes the BEST webcam cover on the market today. Check them out at http://www.c-slide.com

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