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The Unfortunate Reality of Cyberbullying - And What You Can Do About It

By Eric Cook

Cyber bullyingCyber-bulling is the use of the Internet and related technologies, such as cell phones, to harm other people, in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner.” This week on my weekly webinar show, I was joined by social media attorney Deborah Gonzalez, to talk about the very real issue of cyberbullying. To many, this is seen as something that we only need to worry about if we have teenagers, but she shared that 1/3 of employees report they have been the victims of this at the workplace.

As you can see from this statistic, cyberbullying is becoming a digital life issue, not only for children, but adults as well. Why is cyberbullying important? Headlines are full of people misbehaving online, and we have not quite gotten the formula down to fight bad behavior on social media. It is important, and individuals need to be aware of this for themself, their family, and their surrounding community. Being aware of cyberbullying, and what it actually is) is the first step to avoiding it and staying safe.

Here are a few examples that Deborah shared with us on the show:

  • Threatening emails, text messages, and tweets
  • Electronic communication that contains jokes about ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other topic that makes an individual uncomfortable
  • Public shaming via mass email
  • Sharing embarrassing, offensive, or manipulated images or videos of an individual
  • Spreading lies and gossip

Cyberbullying is found on all types of social media platforms (blog post comments, Facebook posts, tweets on Twitter, images on Instagram, etc.). Individual’s words do not act alone, they are spoken and written within context, and this context can come across to individuals in many ways:

  • Actual words
  • Sequence of words
  • Tone 
  • Medium in which they are channeled
  • White space
  • Actions (before and after)

Given that much of what we do online is non-verbal, we have created emojis and digital emoticons to help express our feelings since we are unable to see body language and facial expressions over the Internet. These are important when interpreting a conversation, but they too can be used as part of the bullying process.

Deborah shared there are many different types of legal actions that can be taken when dealing with cyberbullying, and also shared several tips to help deal with this issue without having to take the matters to the extreme. Some helpful tips include:

  • Recognize when it is happening, by paying close attention to your online profiles and what others are saying about you, 
  • Consider not responding to the person bullying you, since in may cases these people are doing it to build controversy (i.e. “don’t feed the trolls”),
  • Document the message, photos, or videos using screenshots so that you have a record, even if the information is deleted later on,
  • Contact the ISP (internet service provider), file a report with the local police, or even consider filing a complaint with the internet crime complaint center.

Check out the full webinar to see real life examples of celebrities and how they have been cyber-bullied over the Internet! And, if you’d like more help in protecting your personal (or business) identity, be sure to visit www.DigitalRCP.com.

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