Cyber bullying is the act of deliberately, repeatedly and hostilely harassing or harming people using the internet and other modern electronic technology such as cell phones, computers and communication tools like social media, websites and chat rooms .Tavani (2001) describes it as an online type of harassment that is facilitated by emails, text messages or forums such as social networks. This bullying always takes place on the cyberspace. It is never physical but always has a psychological effect on the target (Casey, 2011). Social networks have a responsibility to address the issue of cyber bullying and other forms of harassment that occur in their space.
Every social network must put measures in place to ensure that users provide their true details upon registration so that anonymity is not entertained. Most users register and open accounts with fake identities or using their aliases. This anonymity, which is characterized by identity deceptions, makes the perpetrators of cyber bullying so confident since it would be almost impossible to track them. Stringent actions should be taken to ensure that every social network member uses their government identities and this measure would see most cyber crimes including cyber bullying go down.
Explicit rules on MySpace would have prevented Lori Drew the 49-year-old woman from creating an account disguised as Josh Evans a 16-year-old boy. MySpace should have possessed a policy that stipulated clearly that a person was only eligible to set up an account, only if he or she provided actual real details and maybe show evidence for it. In that case then the Josh Evans account would never have been created and Megan Meier would never have been subjected to the cyber bullying that resulted to the end of her life. There existed the obvious expectation that one had to provide his or her personal information before setting up an account so that he or she could not use a fake identity to. These rules were however not clearly followed. All that one needed to get an account was an email address.
Young teenagers who participate in social networking services should learn a thing or two from the implications as seen in the Meier case. Social networks that encourage anonymity between users are completely not to be trusted. This implies that in most times one may never know who is on the other side of the conversation. Openness has been is a virtue that does not exist in cyberspace. Exposal of personal information would be a bad idea because that same information could be used against you in cyber bullying. Meier had low self-esteem issues and that was used against her when the insults started coming her way and it had a psychological impact on her.
Casey, E. (2011). Digital Evidence and Computer Crime: Forensic Science, Computers, and the Internet. Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Tavani, H. T. (2011). Ethics and technology: Controversies, questions, and strategies for ethical computing. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.
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