Social Media Bullying

Impersonation, Social engineering, Outing, Cyber stalking, exclusion, denigration. People online are after exposing false information and threatening others, protect yourself online. What should one do once encountered

Steps to take when you are social media bullying victim

Report bullying instances: Most social media platforms have certain mechanisms to assist victims of cyberbullying. Certain platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram give users multiple ways to report harassment and abuse on the network.[2] Other sites will also often allow you to report to site administrators if you’re bullied on their sites.

Block cyberbullies: Alongside the option to report, most social networks will give users the option to block harassing accounts that allows you to stop specific users from searching, messaging and interacting with you in any way on that specific platform. This will essentially stop all communication from the bully. The main issue with this remedy is that it does not prevent users from setting up other accounts to continue harassing the victim. However, most sites allow users to block a number of accounts thus one could always keep blocking every new cyber-bullying account. Follow these instructions to block cyberbullies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Protecting personal details: Unlike the previous two remedies, a preventative approach to cyber-bullying is to protect your personal details online. All social networks often allow the user to restrict what other users can see. Platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, for instance, allow a user to control their account’s privacy settings in that they condition access to the user’s content on the user’s acceptance of requests. Alternatively, you can go a step further by opting against posting personal details online altogether. Details such as your home address, telephone number and e-mail address are often used by cyberbullies to maintain a grip over victims.

If being bullied on a private messaging app such as a WhatsApp group;

  • Raise a complaint with the group Administrator.
  • Keep screenshots or recordings of the instances of bullying instances
  • Consider leaving the group, advocating for enforcement of group rules if they exist
  • Find solidarity in friends or groups that provide support for HRDs
  • If the bullying persists, report to police for further action. Also seek help from an HRD support group, legal aid services or a lawyer to get a full legal opinion

More information on the threat

Some of the common types of bullying occurring on social networks include:

Impersonation/Fraping: This is a type of bullying that occurs when a cyberbully steals login credentials or gains access to the victim’s accounts in order to post inappropriate or offensive content with their name. Impersonation may also extend to instances where the bully masquerades as another individual by setting up made up profiles in order to lure the victim into a fake relationship. This is often known as catfishing.

Outing: One of the most common ways in which

cyberbullies harass their victims is through openly revealing sensitive or personal information about them without their consent for purposes of embarrassing them or using such information as a tool to blackmail them.

Cyber-stalking/Harassment: A more serious form of bullying occurring on social media is cyber-stalking. This strand of bullying involves the sending of threatening and disparaging electronic messages intended to intimidate and instill fear in victims. Cyber-stalking can often extend to threats of physical harm and monitoring the offline activity of victims. The key differentiating factor is that this behavior makes the target extremely concerned for their personal safety. For this reason, cyber-stalking is often deemed a criminal offence and can result in imprisonment and/or steep fines.

Exclusion: A less direct form of bullying involves the deliberate exclusion of victims from online groups with the intention of making the victim feel singled out from social circles. Although this may not have a direct effect on victims, it may develop into a more overt type when the members of the virtual group subsequently harass the victim with malicious comments and abuse.

Denigration: This is a term used to describe instances where cyberbullies disseminate cruel and unfounded rumours, gossip and generally false statements about the victim with the sole purpose of damaging the victim’s reputation. This behavior is also a tactic that is commonly used in most other forms of bullying.

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