Health

Managing Cyberbullying

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By David Ferreira [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, the geeks are fighting back. In the old days (read: before the Internet), nerds and geeks were often the butt of jokes and other shenanigans which was first viewed as ribbing. Now, these antics have become increasingly violent, causing deep psychological harm on impressionable young people, degrading their self confidence eventually making them fearful of interacting with others. This has continued on with the advent of the Internet, where cyberbullying has become rampant, leading many to take drastic action such as take their own lives.

The Future is Now

Now, those geeks and nerds that have survived and flourished hold the reins to the most powerful tools available online today. In a recent report from BBC.com, Twitter, the 140 character social media giant, has instituted a bigger list of actionable tweets on the site.? The changes were part of an overall review of its rules wherein it saw that a threat requires to be direct and specific to be actionable. This, was seen as too narrow in scope as many were able to circumvent this rule.

This change though would still require that a formal complaint be filed before the social platform would block the account of the erring individual.

Cyberbullies victims too?

Another point of view though sides with the cyberbullies themselves. In an article on QZ.com, research has shown that cyberbullies themselves need help, as they suffer from mental health issues most likely as trauma from previous bullying experienced. Aside from these, they have trouble with authority and rules as well as lingering emotional trauma. This is a cycle now recently being recognized by the medical health community.

Thus, the article on QZ.com pleads not to criminalize bullies, be it in real life or in the cyberworld.? Instead a program of rehabilitation needs to be undertaken to help the bully become a better person in the long run.

Twitter takes action

One way to do this is Twitter expanding the application of its rules. In a statement on Twitter?s blog as reported by the CSMonitor.com, it read, ?We believe that users must feel safe on Twitter in order to fully express themselves. We need to ensure that voices are not silenced because people are afraid to speak up.?

Amongst the changes is the language of the site?s violent threats policy. Now, it allows Twitter to ?intercede even when the abuser is vague about the kind of violence to be either done or promoted.? Twitter would also lock accounts they view as abusive for a period of time, like a sort of suspension.? In order to be allowed in, the said threats should be deleted and verification of a phone number would be required.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons contributor David Ferrreira.

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