This unfortunate increase of bullying via the internet has led to the tragic deaths of many teenagers and adults too, who have all felt that they could no longer cope with life due to the harsh verbal bullying they received online and face to face on a daily basis. This was bullying which included the likes of false rumours and even death threats. Bullying face to face can often be simple to identify and in most cases stop before it gets out of hand; but how does one go about policing the internet?
That, however, is perhaps the wrong question to be asking. Today’s media and police are arguably too focused on destroying the ‘anonymity’ within the internet, taking moves seen by many to be in breach of human rights. The solution, I believe, lies much closer to home. After reading the countless cases of suicide attempts made by teenagers who have been ruthlessly bullied over the internet, I have yet to come across an article that says the victim attempted to block social contact using the websites report functions and block-user features which all such sites include.
Taking this into consideration, it is puzzling to find that many of these victims had their social media pages open to the public, or had added their bullies to their friends list, leaving themselves open to online abuse. It is therefore even more puzzling that the government seek to blame social media companies for allowing and tolerating this type of behaviour online, when many of the necessary safeguards already exist but are not being employed by users.
By no means am I justifying cyber bullying; anyone who does it is committing a crime and no one is responsible for that crime but the bully themselves. However, if you are a victim of online abuse, you can take steps to prevent it. Delete anyone you do not know or are not friends with from your social media friends list. Keep your accounts private to allow only friends to see your content; this can include Twitter, where you can ‘private’ your account so that only your approved followers can view or send you tweets. It is important to remember that anonymity brings out the worst in some people, so avoid websites that give users such an opportunity. But, overall, the most important thing to remember is to tell somebody you trust what is going on.