Ask.com Acquires Q&A Social Network Ask.fm, Prepares To Add Tools To Increase Safety

Ask.com, owned by IAC/InteractiveCorp, said Thursday it acquired Ask.fm, a question and answer (Q&A) social network, signaling another move to integrate search and social. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

About 40% of Ask.fm's global community is under the age of 18. The social network, which prides itself on core values like trust and mutual respect, supports more than 180 million unique members in about 150 countries, with the largest base in the United States. The site also respects anonymity to foster uninhibited, truthful conversations, per the company's. It aims to encourage original opinions and build self-confidence -- but living up to those promises becomes challenging.

Signing on to the site as a new user immediately brings up several questions: Do you talk to yourself? What is the best invention ever? What do you see from your window? The site allows users to type in their answer, post a picture or record a video answer.

CEO Doug Leeds believes Ask.com can add tools and moderators to curb undesirable chatter and nasty comments. The site generates an estimated 20,000 questions per minute with approximately 45% of its mobile monthly active members logging in daily. To date, the mobile app has been downloaded more than 40 million times.

While the site has grown in popularity, attracting today's youth, safeguards surrounding the social site's use by minors has not kept pace. With Ask.fm's founders stepping aside, relinquishing control of the company's future operations and equity stake, Ask.com will move forward to tighten terms of service.

Ask.com has appointed digital safety veteran Catherine Teitelbaum, former director of global safety and product policy for Yahoo, to the newly created role of Chief Trust and Safety Officer at Ask.fm. Digital safety expert and youth advocate Annie Mullins will lead Ask.fm's safety efforts in the United Kingdom and Europe, working closely with Teitelbaum.

The appointments highlight an agreement between Ask.com's parent company IAC/InterActive Corp. and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to implement a set of best practices focused on increasing the safety of the Ask.fm service.

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