ARE SOCIAL NETWORKS ENABLING CYBER BULLYING?

It could be said that bullying is a part of human nature and is a harsh process of personal growth. However, cyber bullying has been on the rise ever since the evolution of the world wide web and continues to have an extensive psychological, emotional and social negative impact of those victimised online. It might be that cyber bullying is a modern day version of face-to-face bullying, regardless, it is apparent that cyber bullying is becoming much more prevalent as the need and use of an online existence  increases.

Cyber bullying statistics Australia (2010) state that 1 in 3 young Australians have experienced cyber bullying or cyber threats at some point and of those bullied online, only 1 in 10 tell a parent.  Patchin & Hinduja argue the uniqueness of cyber bullying compared to traditional bullying and the notion of anonymity and the effortless nature of accessibility despite location and time. Damien Gayle expresses Facebook as the worse social networking site for internet and online bullying. As I too have a large online presence, it is becoming more common (especially on Facebook) to pass an article or news journal, which in turn instigate a debate like community which spins rather fast into a trolling and abusive online thread.

In light of cyber bullying concerns and patterns, social media sites such as Facebook have given users the ability to ‘report  post’ when concerns or conflicts arise in relation to online bullying and are asked to categorise why the post is harmful in order to resolve the subject matter. Despite Facebook’s aim to encourage and guide users to report harmful material, damaging and insulting posts and images are still being shared daily with little to no action being taken. The need for change is indubitable, yet social media sites  rely solely on the implication of individual monitoring.

White (2012) suggests social networking sites implement ‘ImageVision technology’ that is designed to scan online sites for inappropriate or offensive language that detects any traces of cyber bullying. The technology is triggered by key words and is constructed to stream in the background of social network usage. Once the material is detected, it will be reviewed by human moderators who determine if the content is ‘safe’ or ‘flagged’ for further investigation. White further discusses how social networks can serve their users a safe and enjoyable online experience with Photobucket showing strong results of user protection with already employing this technology. On the other hand, the implementation of this technology could see a rise of users claiming a breach of privacy concerns or individuals limited and restricted entitlement to freedom of speech.

I personally believe that cyber bullying is a serious and detrimental contemporary social issue in today’s society that lacks addressing and publicity. It is vital that information and shared knowledge is passed down to younger individuals that in hope, break this vicious cycle of online bullying.

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