Anonymity has always been one of the great benefits of the Internet. But it also could very well be an asset for those who choose to ignore the rules. The internet is riddled with cyberbullying, with social networking sites enabling some of the most extreme shaming of those who do not conform to a set of pre-assigned standards, age, social identity or physical appearance. The way these images are shared with other friends and non-friend who see the images is a useful tool for them to self-identify and identify with their bully.
In their report, Can You Really Pull Off a Cyberbullying Scam?, the cyberbullying research team had determined that 2,500 to 17,000 cyberbullying incidents take place each day across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Skype. These are the unfortunate victims of cyberbullying that occur when people anonymously send offensive messages to one another and seek to spread or locate other people on their victim’s social media networks.
Online racist, sexist, and disrespectful messages are at a high and often go unnoticed.
The case of two prominent female athletes is a good example of how cyberbullying can destroy reputations. Mirai Nagasu (17) and Chloe Kim (16) are the current champs in figure skating and snowboarding, respectively. Earlier this year, Nagasu made headlines when she was left off the team for this year’s Winter Olympics due to an incident she called “badass.” In March 2017, Nikita Kucherov (17) appeared on the cover of SI’s swimsuit issue, causing a firestorm of controversy as numerous accounts accused him of body shaming women of varying body types as well as making jokes about emaciation and starving. As Kim was one of the critics, her detractors began to create a wave of heat against her in the online media, threatening online to publicly shame her and her family and to take their children out of classrooms and homeschooling. She had to fight back against online bullying and retrain herself as a figure skater to change the focus from her body to her artistic skills.
To combat cyberbullying, first, create a strict and secure environment. Cyberbullying is one of the least-reported crimes and there may not be a corresponding crime associated with it.
Next, collect enough documentation so that you can prove an attack. By getting evidence, you can use that evidence against your attacker. For example, the abuser may have tried to spread photos of a victim online, but it is also possible they can have the photos removed from the servers in the process. This may not prove much of a deterrent as the attacker realizes the ease of gaining physical access to the victim’s computer and could probably delete the evidence easily.