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Exclusive Interview: Teen, Tweens and the Dangers of Ask.fm: Anonymous App Tied to Cyberbullying

Parents need to ask their children if they’re using Ask.fm on their smartphones or online. If they are, they need to keep a close eye on what their kids are saying in cyberspace and, even more importantly, what others are saying to them.

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In very little time, the social networking app and its online website have gone viral among teens and tweens, with more than 60 million downloads of the app alone. The reason: Ask.fm lets users post comments and ask questions anonymously. That cloak of secrecy may be innocent enough if one middle schooler asks another who they like at school. But multiple news reports say the anonymity has also led to intense cyberbullying and even reports of a rash of teen suicides. Buzzfeed and the New York Times are just the latest media outlets to link the app (and others like it) to tragic consequences.

In this ReMARCable Video Blog Exclusive, McAfee Online Security Expert Robert Siciliano talks with On The Marc Media's Marc Silverstein about the controversial app. Among the concerns: Ask.fm is based in Latvia, out of the reach of American authorities. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, there's no way to report bullying, increase privacy or find out who is behind threatening comments when they're posted anonymously. As Siciliano points out, "there's no accountability with anonymity." His advice: parents need to monitor every aspect of their children's online activity—and learn how to use every app and device their kids have access to. For those parents worried about infringing on their children's privacy, Siciliano has a blunt reply: "Trust is overrated."

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