Social media site Ask.fm criticized for fostering bullying, makes changes

CLEVELAND - It's a website where people can ask one another questions. And if they opt for anonymity, they can do so without ever being traced.

The site has about 60 million users worldwide; about half are under the age of 18.

On Ask.fm, millions of teens talk about their hookups, struggles and wild weekends, with no adults to peer over their shoulders. But some also use the site to anonymously torment other teens. With its popularity soaring, Ask.fm is coming under attack from parents, politicians and privacy watchdog groups.

This week, the site announced changes to prevent bullying, including making it easier to report inappropriate behavior and allowing users to opt out of receiving anonymous communications. Also, certain features of the site will no longer be available to those who don't register with an email address.

Ask.fm is based in Latvia in Northern Europe and most of its activity is abroad. Already five suicides in Britain are linked to the website.

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Macie Jepson is co-anchor of "Good Morning Cleveland" weekdays on NewsChannel5 from 4:30-7 a.m. She is communicating with her Facebook followers about Ask.fm. And she's asking viewers to share their secrets to monitoring their kids' social media activity. Like her on facebook.com/maciejepson and join the conversation.

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