Social media is undoubtedly one of the most profound revolutions of the 20th century and there has never been anything quite like it. The global community now has a platform to share their thoughts, intentions, tastes, histories, and influences over national, demographic, gender and language barriers, something that is very much unprecedented in history. Used the right way, social media is a powerful tool that can improve individual life, enrich conversations and connect people from as diverse backgrounds as exist on the planet.
But there is also a dark side to social media, and one that has featured very prominently in the news cycles over the last few years. Think of election meddling for instance, or the auctioning of child brides on Facebook or the live streaming of the murder of tens of people in Christchurch, New Zealand. See? It is not all rosy and social media, just like anything else good, is subject to abuse. While many of us are isolated from some of these headline screaming events, there is one way in which social media can be used against anyone: cyberbullying.
When most people think of social media cyberbullying, they tend to associate it with children, especially young girls being made to do things that they wouldn’t normally do. Some of these kids get so distressed that they sometimes commit suicide and that is sadly how many people have come to understand cyberbullying- the case of being taken advantage of or intimidated with the facilitation of social media.
But social media cyberbullying can, however, take many forms and it doesn’t only happen to innocent and defenseless people, adults can fall victims too and in more ways than one.
The Different Kinds of Social Media Cyberbullying
We have all heard of revenge porn, a situation in which a bitter lover threatens to post someone else’s intimate moments be it video or pictures on social media for the entire world to devour. This is just one form of cyber bullying-there are many more.
Revenge porn has been featured in the news cycles for a while now, and social media companies have taken steps to ensure that their platforms are not going to be used to shame other people or expose their most private moments. In the US, 45 states have so far passed laws that prohibit and punish acts classifiable as “revenge porn,” but that doesn’t mean that you are entirely safe from a sour lover or someone out to settle some score. You still need to be on the lookout for someone looking to soil your reputation through social media.
Intimidation is the most prevalent form of social media cyberbullying. This is the case of someone posting threatening messages on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and promising to perpetrate acts of violence against a person or a group. People who are threatened in this way can sometimes feel hopeless, fearful and with nowhere to turn. In some cases, they might even get suicidal. The threatening messages don’t even have to be publicly displayed, they may be sent directly to the receiver as often happens when the target is naïve or underage.
Cyberstalking is the use of social media to systematically target someone with the goal of intimidating them, shaming, harassing and to generally make them feel uncomfortable. If Jane, for instance, responds to every comment that Jack makes on Facebook with posts that detail aspects of his private life, then such constitutes cyberstalking. But it is not just commenting, as every activity on social media can basically be used to victimize a person if there is someone dedicated to making another feel uncomfortable.
This mostly happens to celebrities and YouTube creators who lament of underserved negative comments about their work, appearance or aspects of their private lives. It is so serious that the First Lady of the United States, Melania Trump, has taken it up as one of the issues that she wants to see addressed.
A few years back Jennifer Lawrence, the actress behind the Hunger Games, fell victim to a blackmail campaign that threatened to release intimate photos if she did not part with some cash.
Anyone can fall victim to such as a scheme and it doesn’t even have to be photos or anything like that. Social media has the power to amplify information, anything potentially damaging no matter how small can go a long way in destroying a life. You can protect your data from being accessed by using a tool like AndroidCare that will keep your files safe.
What to Do If You are Being Cyberbullied?
Is there anything that you can do if you are being cyberbullied? Yes, there are many ways to deal with cyberbullying. First, seek protection from the police. As noted earlier, lots of governments have passed laws that prohibit any and all of the above-listed forms of cyberbullying. The police will apply the relevant laws against the perpetrator. Secondly, talk to someone. The reason that cyberbullying can get out of hand, especially where exploitation is concerned, is the lack of a second opinion. Try talking to someone you trust if you feel that you are a victim of cyberbullying, especially if you are a young person- an adult will know what to do.
Lastly, but most importantly, you can report cases of cyberbullying to the different social media platforms. Below are some ways to report abuse on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
Reporting Abuse on Facebook
You can report a post, message, like, group, or an individual on Facebook. If someone threatens you, you can also alert Facebook through the following means:
- If you see a post or a photo that is against Facebook’s community standards, click or tap Give feedback on this post, and then hit
- Select from the list of options (e. nudity, violence, harassment etc.), and click Send.
To report a group on Facebook, take the following steps:
- Select the group you want to report.
- Under options, select Give feedback or Report Group.
- Choose from the list of the options why you think the group should be reported then click Send.
To report a message on the Messenger App, take the following steps:
- Tap on their Name, and then Block > Block on Messenger.
This will prevent them from sending any messages directly to you on Facebook.
- Alternatively, tap Something is wrong self-injury, harassment, hate speech and more. Click Send and the Facebook team will receive your information and take appropriate actions.
Reporting Abuse on Twitter
On Twitter you have the option of reporting a tweet or an entire account.
Reporting a Tweet
- Tap the down-facing arrow.
- Tap Report tweet and select the reason why.
To report someone’s account on Twitter, take the following steps:
- Click the three stacked icons on the person’s profile.
- Tap and click Report and select Their tweets are abusive or hateful.
- Choose among the options and click Send.
Reporting Abuse on Instagram
- On the profile or post, tap the three stacked dots icon.
- Tap Report and indicate it’s then choose among the reasons like harassment, hate speech and so on.
Reporting a Comment on Instagram
- Tap the message bubble icon.
- Tap ! over the inappropriate message.
- A prompt will appear asking why the message should be reported.
- Choose among the options.
- Click Send.
To report a message on Instagram, take the following two steps:
- Open the conversation you want to report.
- Tap the message you want to report. Click Report.
- Choose among the reasons and then send.
In all of these cases, the various social media platforms will take appropriate action.
We still recommend, however, that you keep your files and other personal information safe by downloading AndroidCare. That way, no one can use information gotten from your account to blackmail or intimidate you.