Spy on Ask.fm’s public stream and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported back to middle school, dumped in the center of he-said, she-said dramas — sometimes innocuous, sometimes not. Here, hormone-crazed young boys and girls banter about their after-school plans, tease their peers, boast about their most recent hookups, and try to appear cool with expletives and graphic language.
Ask.fm is a 3-year-old question-and-answer app that’s wracked up 57 million users and is adding members at a rate of 200,000 a day. It’s spreading from kid to kid, infiltrating middle schools and high schools the same way that mobile sensations Instagram and Snapchat have.
Yet, intermixed with these ordinary tween concerns are troubling inquiries. An anonymous user asked a female teenager, “Have you struggled with an eating disorder/ depression/ self harm/ suicidal thoughts before? It’s okay if you don’t wanna answer, I just need some advice:).” The young girl’s response: “all of them… ”
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