In the light of recent cyber bullying incidents, i thought of writing an article that might help some of you on how to respond and what to do when you face such incidents.
First of all, let's understand what is a cyber bullying? It is the act of harassing someone using the electronic medium especially Internet. Many of us may already experienced this in one way or another. Some argue it as freedom of expression but at most of the times, it crosses all the boundaries of tolerance and patience. Bullying can happen due to ideological differences, opinions, political or even religious reasons. Now, i will get in to details of these reasons.
Most of the bullying may seems as an individual opinion or comment. But there are many groups and organizations who get paid for bullying someone. Yes, it may seems odd but it is a reality. The political parties, religious groups or organizations, ideological movements, fan groups etc have their own IT groups who are assigned to work on social media and sharing, publishing their own propaganda, opinions and last but not the least, they do cyber bullying.
For example, assume there is a political party PARTY X, and they have a a number of volunteers working at their IT cell. Their major job is to share PARTY X's political ideologies , achievements, failures as posts or even as fake news. When thousands of volunteers share something, to the more people it reach, the more impact it has in the common viewer's mind. Let's assume a person named Bob wrote a post about a fake news made by this PARTY X, then the party's IT volunteers role will be changed to Cyber Bullies. They , in groups starts writing bad and vulgar comments about Bob on his Facebook wall or even on his friends wall, eventually Bob feels frustrated and may delete the post or his profile. When these IT cell/group report abuse Bob's profile, even Facebook might think that there is something inappropriate on Bob's profile. And Facebook may send a notice to Bob instead of identifying the real culprit. Well it hard for Facebook also to identify what is right and wrong over internet, and hence they heavily depends on their users. When their users report abuse, then they may check it. Otherwise, nothing happens. Similar behaviors happens from other celebrity fan groups, religious groups, propaganda groups etc. They all works like an online mafia.
Recently , there are some cases reported on Cyber bullying against women and children. It also happened in the same way as political parties do. Some people, in groups posts many vulgar comments and harassing them on social media. Most of the victims eventually lose their peace and mental health in long term.
So if you are facing Cyber bullying, what to do? How to respond?
Well Facebook has provided their own guidelines on cyber bullying. I am sharing those links at the end of this article. This is what Facebook policy says, whenever you face or notice a cyber bullying,
- Document and report it. Help your friend report the post to Facebook. You may also want to take screenshots of any abusive posts, comments or messages in case there's an ongoing issue or you need to show them to someone later. Your friend may also want to unfriend or block this person.
- Offer support. Ask your friend what you can do to support them, but don’t speak for your friend unless they ask you to.
- Stay calm. Try to help your friend avoid escalating the problem or acting aggressively. If you and your friend agree that the incident wasn’t a big deal, suggest they let it go. Bullies are often just looking for a reaction, so not giving them one may discourage this kind of behavior in the future.
- Remind your friend they're not alone. Let your friend know that you want to help them handle this. Remind your friend that they haven’t done anything to deserve this and that bullying can happen to anyone.
- Don’t keep it a secret. If your friend needs additional support, encourage them to reach out to someone they trust to talk about the situation. If you’re worried about your friend’s safety, tell someone immediately.
But to what extend this will help you? well the answer is, it depends on various factors. If you are living in a Country that has a good law on Cyber security and IT crime, then legally documenting and reporting may help you to stop the act to some extend. But the mental torture and stress caused by this , for that there may not have a solution.
Sadly , most of the Countries doesn't have a strong Cyber crime laws in place. So even if the police identify the cyber bullies and caught them, there is no way to give a appropriate punishment to them. First of all, weighing the effect of a cyber crime might be very hard. Though act of writing some comments or posting some photos may not seems as harmful as stealing some thing or killing someone. But since the entire world is connected over internet, writing such comments or photos may end in much wider consequences and there are cases where people even did suicide because of such bullies. This weakness in law act as a catalyst agent to those bullies because they are almost confident that nothing bad can happens to them legally.
Even though, most of the social community websites like Facebook has their own guidelines on do and don't, but those things never acts as a deterrent to the cyber bullies. They will continue to write in a vulgar and abusive way. Even Facebook cant find a way to control this. Also note that retaliating and responding to bullies never going to help you as they comes with an agenda and they are so many in numbers as well.
So control your activities in the Internet. Be sure about what you are writing and what you are sharing. Always keep in mind that, what you are going to do on sites like Facebook is going to the public. Be sure yourself. And as of now, there is no way to prevent the cyber bullying completely. But as individuals, you can keep your personal space on the internet safe and clear. Recheck your privacy settings and have a control on your profile and its content. And be vigilant and if you want to move legally against cyber bullies, all you can do is follow the Facebook guidelines and cyber crime laws in your country.