Maryland AG urges advertisers to pull ads from Ask.fm

By Bryan Cohen | May 9, 2013

BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler urged multiple major advertisers on Wednesday to stop advertising on Ask.fm, an ad-supported website that is becoming a forum for anonymous attacks on children.

In a letter to advertisers, Gansler said the Latvia-based website allows for the anonymous publication of malicious personal attacks on teens and children as young as eight years old. The site may also collect personal information about children in ways that violate the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. The site has also been connected to multiple teen suicides.

"This website is putting children at risk and we think it's important to let major corporate advertisers know how their marketing dollars are spent and what those dollars support," Gansler said. "A growing number of children under 13 use Ask.fm because it makes no meaningful effort to limit underage access, and these kids are being exposed to malicious anonymous postings, including racial slurs, sexual references, drug use and personal assaults."

Gansler is asking that corporate advertisers re-examine their marketing policies in light of the increasing threat posed to children by internet sexual predators, identity theft, cyberbullying and other privacy and safety risks becoming increasingly common in the digital world.

"(The website is a) virtual center for misunderstanding and hate," Gansler said. "The extensive personal information published on this site, including street addresses, also makes it a likely tool for child predators."

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