Published on November 22, 2012 | by Siss Anderson0
Cyber bullying crack-down
Media and academic circles have recently picked up on the unique and daunting phenomena of cyber bullying after a number of tragic deaths.
In the last couple of weeks, the world has witnessed as cyber bullying has led to further tragedies. The last was Erin Gallagher. The 13-year-old Irish girl was found dead Saturday October 27, 24 hours after warning her online bullies that she would end her young life. At Gallagher’s funeral the priest, Fr John Joe Duffy, urged her fellow students to close their ask.fm accounts and other websites of this type. He also told the mourners that the government should stop “hiding behind technicalities” and regulate social media sites.
There have been many similar cases like the one of Gallagher, the story of Amanda Todd for instance. Before she died, Todd posted the black and white video “My Story: Struggling, bullying, suicide and self-harm” on YouTube. The nine-minute recording reveals years of secret torment after sending an image of her breasts to a man she had frequently online contact with and trusted.
The image was circulating on the Internet soon after she sent it, and it has been the object of a bully campaign that targeted the girl for years. On October 10 this year, she was found dead at her home. And still after Todd’s death people would not leave her alone. The topless picture was reposted online along mocking images and comments saying Todd deserved the abuse from cyber bullies after her topless photo.
Making fake profiles in other people’s names containing defamatory information happens a lot. Also the possibility of staying anonymous makes bullying easier on the Internet. Unlike traditional bullying it appears that girls are more likely to engage in cyber bullying and also be targeted more than their male counterparts.
Dr. John Hester, Professor in Psychology at Francis Marion University, claims that people don’t necessary outgrow bullying and that the Internet makes it a whole lot easier. “I think social media- the immediacy of it and the ability to comment on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube- all creates an environment where people can make statements they wouldn’t ever make in person”, he says.
“I think most bullies feel some inadequacy themselves. They feel hurt and inadequate and they bully in effort to gain some control.” Dr Hester
“With cyber bullying, you can’t escape from it. Fifty-four per cent of the kids who were bullied said they didn’t know who was bullying them on the Internet”, says Robin Kowalski, author of ‘Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age’. Everyone can be subjected to this type of bullying, not only kids and teenagers.
A survey published in the Guardian showed that one in seven school teachers has been victims of cyber bullying from either parents or students. It often involved cases where students had set up ‘hate’ groups on social network sites.
A culture of humiliation
Public humiliation has become entertainment, as we watch other people expose themselves or others. Earlier this year BBC named Hunter Moore, the founder of IsAnyoneUp.com (IAU), ‘the Net’s most hated man’. His so-called revenge porn-website allowed ex-lovers in possession of compromising photos to send in these and post them online to the delight and mockery of roughly 350.000 daily visitors.
All images that would appear would by accompanied by screenshots of their facebook or twitter account, full names, city and state. The site was up and running for more than 16 months, shielded from a third-party copyright violation by the Digital Millennium Copyrights Act.
“Cheated on me and broke my heart/ Gonna show the world you private parts”, is the unofficial anthem of IAU, and the only rule Moore played by was that the subjects of humiliation were over 18 years old. It may seem that this 26-year old high school dropout would do anything to get attention to his site.Moore himself was accordingly bullied through his years at school because of his nose. He spent his first earnings from IAU on a nose job. “I think most bullies feel some inadequacy themselves.
They feel hurt and inadequate and they bully in effort to gain some control. That control is really what it’s all about”, says Dr. Hester.So, when a man like Moore used to be the victim, this might be his way of gaining control.
“I would love to just fucking dominate the world like a white P.Diddy”, Moore recently said in an interview with the Rolling Stones. Coming from him, it appears to be more than a joke. With all the attention towards this complex trend of bullying, steps have been taken.
In September, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that a young girl could remain anonymous while seeking to identify the author of an allegedly defamatory Facebook page.
Criminalising online activity
In September 2011 California State Senate passed “Seth’s Law”, as a measure designed to curb anti-gay bullying in schools. 14-year old Jamey Rodemeyer committed suicide in 2011 after years of bullying because of struggles with his sexuality. In the days leading up to the tragedy, his famously posted a cover of Lady Gaga´s “It gets better”.
His case and similar incidents brought attention to this issue and resolved in the new law. Although cyber bullying is not a specific criminal offence in UK law, criminal laws such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 may apply in terms of harassment or threatening behaviour.