Facebook is the home to 1 billion virtual personas embodying 1 billion people around the world. While most of us use Facebook in a mostly harmless way (bar the innocent cyberstalking from time to time), a momentous anti-cyberbullying conference in Europe has revealed some startling truths about the social media climate.
Cyberbullying is one of the most worrying abuse of the power of modern social media. The transition of bullying from the playground and classrooms to cyberspace is extremely worrying. Cyberbullying is so rampant because it is directly proportional to the avenues available for social media. It can be found in Facebook, Twitter, mobile social media platforms, text messages, forums, YouTube comments, meme campaigns and more! Some trending topics on Twitter are funny but then they make fun of a person. Some Facebook memes are extremely humorous but then again there are times that it is at the expense of another individual. How would you feel if your latest mishap became news fodder? How would you feel if you were the brunt of the world’s joke?
Apparently, Erin Gallagher (13) and Ciara Pugsley (15) felt that being relentlessly teased was worse than being dead so the two girls took their own lives last year. Seemingly to add insult to the injury, reports have risen regarding online “trolls” who urge people to “do a Ciara” or “do an Erin”.
In response to this, Facebook European safety director Patricia Cartes has promised to have a zero-tolerance policy towards these kinds of attacks. Sanctions are vowed to be severe and immediate. The penalties ranging from comment deletion to account removal are promised to be enforced within a 24 hour processing period.
“We are on 100% coverage and we highly prioritize reports involving minors and cyber-bullying,” she has told the reporters, “We will have zero tolerance for those kind of comments. That would classify as cyberbullying and an attack on a private individual.”
Let’s all hope that Facebook succeeds in their mission to prevent cyberbullying. We can also do our part to help by avoiding “liking” derogatory Facebook posts or retweeting offensive Twitter updates. The Internet is not a new playground for bullies and your social media account should not be an anonymous spectre in which you vent out all your frustrations by seeking to hurt someone else. The Internet is for everyone and everyone should feel safe in using the Internet. Like we previously said, think before you “like”!