IAC to acquire Ask.fm, agrees to combat cyberbullying

IAC agrees to work with the New York Attorney General on improving protection against cyberbullying on the site.
By Ananth Baliga  |  Aug. 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM
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NEW YORK, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- Tinder and Ask.com owner InterActiveCorp acquired controversial site Ask.fm for an undisclosed amount, promising to address cyberbullying complaints against the site.

IAC reached a deal with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to combat the issues by imposing safety policies and procedures as well as removing users who have been the subject of complaints. The Latvia-based website is popular among teens, with 40 percent of its 180 million users under the age of 18.

"Under the terms of the agreement, Ask.fm will revamp its safety policies and procedures," Schneiderman said in a statement.

"An independent safety and security examiner will be appointed to examine the changes and report on compliance to the Attorney General's Office for three years," the statement added.

Ask.fm is a site where users can pose questions to one another, many times anonymously. The company was started by two Latvian brothers, Ilja and Mark Terebin, who have agreed to leave the company. The site came under fire last summer, following the suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith, after she was subjected to abusive comments on Ask.fm.

Other such stories surfaced later and the site was criticized for not policing these threads. The site has also reportedly been used by Islamic militants fighting in Syria and Iraq, who use it as a recruiting tool.

"Our acquisition of Ask.fm was predicated on the belief that with the right mix of technology, talent and investment, we could make this site a materially safer place," said Doug Leeds, chief executive officer of Ask.com.

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