Social Media has brought some new layers to old-fashioned bullying.Digital imprints that have circulated to bully and degrade individuals have caused an erosion of privacy and new laws have been designed all around the world. There have been suicides linked to this behavior from the sharing of personal digital imprints and negative messages on social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and on cell phones through text messaging. These digital imprints remain forever and have gone viral on Social Media.
Cyberbullies can remain anonymous by using bogus names, setting up temporary email accounts. What has been most deplorable is that young people have taken their lives from these devastating actions. I think of the Rehtaeh Parsons case, where she had been raped by four males while passed out and vomiting from drinking too much, pictures were taken, they were shared on many forums of social media-she was targeted.
The cyberbullying started by students in her school both male and female who judged her on her breach of privacy and the violation of her body. In August of 2013, a new law was passed in Nova Scotia allowing the victims to charge their perpetrators for cyberbullying. Her father,Glen Canning blogged about this horrific incident with his daughter, his messages went viral on the internet,Facebook and Twitter.
He writes, “I don’t want her life to defined by a Google search”.So he writes a wonderful blog of memories as well as the explaination of the ” pictures” that some said, “Ruined their lifes while it took his daughter’s life”. The cybergroup Anonymous got on board with this case as well and brought it to the forefront through media and social media sites.
While this is one case of cyberbullying it shows how social media affected so many lives and how there are still many quetions on the policing of this behavior on social media sites. The article I have linked, references the Parsons case and also highlights, how social media assisted in the sharing pictures of the suspected Boston Bombers and the impact of social media in this world today.
There is much to learn and teach on this subject especially to our youth about the rules of social media usage. The website mediasmarts.ca is a wonderful tool for teachers, parents etc. We can only hope the issue of cyberbullying, will become a thing of the past, as we all learn from the seriousness of this behavior.