In Cyber Safety, The Digital World

The Bully on Facebook, Who Wins?

Think of the ways we’ve used technology to make our lives portable; pervasive, with you all the time. Now throw someone who doesn’t like you into that mix. The reason is unimportant. What matters is they have a presence in this portable world, as do you. And with that point of connection the taunting, the insults and the negativity are now portable. Add to this that there’s been a ton of research to show placing a layer of technology between you and someone you know makes it easier to say things that you’d never say to their face. This freedom only becomes more powerful when your real identity is taken out of the equation” ~ ABC writer William Cohen. This article will tell you more the Bully on Facebook Now!

Understanding the Bully on Facebook

The social media world has enabled bullies to roam the vulnerable grounds of teenagers’ minds ever so freely. Enabled by limitless means of connectivity, the bully on Facebook has become so much more harmful than schoolyard fighting that results in torn shirts or bleeding lips. According to Pew Internet Research, teenagers tend to prefer networking through Facebook with those they know (or don’t know) than using Twitter, or the old MySpace. However, and according to the very same study, 85% of teenagers have witnessed someone being cruel or mean to someone else or, in other words, a bully on facebook.

Recently, a few incidents of fake memorial pages on Facebook surfaced the web. In 2009, Facebook introduced the ability for friends and family to memorialize the Facebook page of a user who dies. What happens is that the page is converted into a memorial page and deactivated from normal updates; this prevents friends from getting alerts about the deceased user. It also allows friends and family to preserve the page without having sensitive information online (contact information, for example) and prevents any new friend requests.

Basically, a Buzzfeed writer posted a step-by-step instructional guide that was so easy to follow, on how to memorialize your (active and alive) Facebook friend’s page. All that is needed, other than the user’s name and email (often displayed right on the page) is proof of death; this usually takes the form of a URL to a death notice, funeral home, anything that would “prove” the user is dead. When this friend tries to access their account, they get the following message:

Account Inaccessible: This account is in a special memorial state. If you have any questions or concerns, please visit the Help Center for further information.

Since introducing the memorializing process in 2009, the process has not been changed. A time-sensitive email is sent to the original user’s email, but if the user fails to respond within a limited time, the page gets memorialized and their access gets denied, because “A live user would obviously respond. After a recent incident in which a user was memorialized, Facebook released this statement:

“We have designed the memorialisation process to be effective for grieving families and friends, while still providing precautions to protect against either erroneous or malicious efforts to memorialize the account of someone who is not deceased,” the statement reads. “We also provide an appeals process for the rare instances in which accounts are mistakenly reported or inadvertently memorialized.”

There is a rising question whether these “pranks” should be construed as simple and harmless, or if they can be a form of harassment and, ultimately, Cyberbullying with the significant potential for emotional and psychological harm. One would think pranks are not serious. However, in this day and age of technology, pranks are fast becoming ways to harass, torment, and cyberbully people online. Think of it that way: the adults who were “killed” on Facebook probably felt annoyed and angered by the prank. Now imagine a child who’s already being bullied at school, on the bus, and through instant messaging, who then finds out they cannot access their Facebook accounts because they’re “dead”. For a teenager who’s not a right state of mine, or who’s had their self-esteem diminished, this might just trigger a more severe psychological condition.

The Bully on Facebook, who wins?

The Jury is still out on preventing in full the bully on facebook… Facebook states that anyone under the age of 13 should not be allowed to use Facebook, or should be monitored by a parent. But does that stop the bully on facebook?

The internet was not a sweet safe haven place until Zuckerberg et al showed up. In fact, those who have used the Internet for long have come across countless incidents where they needed to disable comments on a blog post, delete a forum thread, or leave an online chatroom. Take for instance Formspring, which was launched in 2009 as a ‘social Q and A’ website where the users were allowed to post and respond to questions either using a profile or anonymously. This had predictable results for the teenage user base – given the potent combination of a platform to stand on and a mask to hide behind. It ended up being a place where questions like “How much of a s**t is [insert name]?” people would gang up on the mentioned person and harass them like there was no tomorrow.

More modern is Ask.fm, which has been linked to a number of teenage suicide cases in the UK and Ireland. Researchers also seem to miss online gaming platforms in the bullying discussion, for some reason. Online gaming and MMOGs (Massive Multiplayer Online Games) are arenas where anonymity is not only welcomed but actually expected. And matching anonymity with a competitive environment is guaranteed to bring out the worst in almost everyone. What relatively moderates this is the “code of conduct” some online gamers tend to share.

The Bully on Facebook: Community Standards

This “code of conduct” or “etiquette” is something Facebook carefully wrote down and made explicit to the public users in its Community Standards. In what concerns the matters of harassment, bullying and hate speech, Facebook says the following:

Bullying and Harassment: Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment. We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals. Repeatedly targeting other users with unwanted friend requests or messages is a form of harassment.

Hate Speech: Facebook does not permit hate speech, but distinguishes between serious and humorous speech. While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

Facebook reporting, which is much more transparent than Google Plus reporting, and which contrasts with Twitter which has no means to report online abuse, enables users to report annoying, undesirable, or offensive content to its support team.

“If you see something on Facebook that you believe violates our terms, you should report it to us. Please keep in mind that reporting a piece of content does not guarantee that it will be removed from the site. Because of the diversity of our community, it’s possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for being removed or blocked. For this reason, we also offer personal controls over what you see, such as the ability to hide or quietly cut ties with people, Pages, or applications that offend you.”

The Bully on Facebook:  Transparent Reporting

It seemed necessary that Facebook started making its users feel more confident about spending time on their favourite social network. In April 2012, Facebook decided to launch a new Support Dashboard to enable its users to track reports they make due to bullying, hate speech, or other, until they’re resolved. Users can check to see if their report has been reviewed, be notified of whether the offensive content was removed or left up, and learn why the decision was made.

Furthermore, last year, Social Reporting was created by Facebook for its users to try to resolve bullying and other forms of breaching the community standards by talking things out together. To put it simply, the system lets you ask the uploader of content (a photo or other) to take it down in case you find it offensive or embarrassing. If that does not work, or if the post directly abuses the site’s policies, the complaint can be escalated by being sent to Facebook through “Report” buttons around the site, which can now be tracked through the Support Dashboard.

While Consumer Reports said one million children were bullied on Facebook from June 2010-2011, President Obama and America’s First Lady also took it to Facebook to spread an awareness message against Cyber bullying and the bully on facebook and to promote Stopbullying.gov.

when it comes to The Bully on Facebook, who do you think wins? weigh in on The Bully on Facebook in our comments below…

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