Interactive Corp, better known as IAC, is the digital holding company run by Barry Diller. It owns a wide portfolio of online companies and today the BBC reports that it will be acquiring Ask.fm for an undisclosed sum. IAC already owns Ask.com and About.com, so Ask.fm will fit into a suite of online question-and-answer services. British politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron have criticized the site, saying Ask.fm does too little to prevent suicide and police cyberbullying.
IAC said in a statement that as part of the purchase it will invest millions into revamping the safety policies and procedures on Ask.fm. The Q&A service, founded by two Latvian brothers, has grown wildly, from about 20 million users at the beginning of 2013 to 180 million monthly visitors this year, most of them young people under the age of 21. With this deal, the founders have effectively been bought out, and Ask.fm will be under the leadership of Doug Leeds, who currently runs IAC's Ask.com.
The company has signed an agreement with regulators in New York and Maryland to work on new methods for curbing cyberbullying. "They had a laissez-faire, libertarian attitude," Mr Leeds told the BBC, adding under its new management "threats of violence and other distressing content would 'not be welcome.'"