Last Friday I got a call from a friend in tears, apparently someone has made a fake Facebook account using her photos and has been sending sexually explicit messages to her friends on Facebook. We later contacted Facebook help center and got it resolved. I was wondering if this is the new form of bullying. Bullying via Social Media?
We all remember Amanda Todd, the British Columbia teenager who was sexually exploited online and cyberbullied who ended up killing herself at the age of 15. Everybody has experienced some form of bullying in their lives; most people used to encounter bullying in high school or at the playground. Today, with the rise of the Internet and the Social Media era, people are being bullied and often sexually exploited online. Many of these cases go unheard and many end with self-harm. Cyberbullying could range from minor annoyances to life threats or sexual harassments.
Cyberbullying: Bullying in the Social Media Era
How many friends do you have on your personal Facebook /Instagram /Twitter /Google plus accounts? How well do you know them? Anyone of any age or gender can become a victim of cyberbullying.
So, here are some safety measures for all the Social Media Aficionados out there:
It’s time to change your privacy settings
Social Media channels like Facebook has billions of users, who are actively sharing photos, videos and posting updates. That selfie you took in the bathroom could reach everyone on the internet and be used in despicable ways unless you limit the audience. For instance if you have set your Facebook information to “public”, anything you may share can reach anyone online.
Here are the 4 privacy settings available on Facebook
Public: Anyone on or off Facebook (Not recommended)
Friends: Your Facebook friends
Only me: Only you can see what you have posted
Custom: Gives access to a selective audience of your choice.
Who are you connecting with?
Having 500+ friends/followers is not considered COOL anymore, Quality triumphs Quantity.
Keep in mind that the quality of your social connections rather than the quantity of connections will make your online experience a pleasant one. That stranger that added you on Facebook last week may look harmless and friendly, but apart from that what do you know about them? Fake profiles are mushrooming on Social Media as you read this. That cute guy you added the other day could be a 60 year old ex con! So be smart and make sure you know the person well when you are befriending them online and YES your mum was correct “Don’t speak to strangers”. Take some time to unfriend those suspicious accounts that you added some time ago. Remember if you’re being bullied by an online friend, go ahead and block them or delete them from your friend’s list.
Who are you sharing with
YOLO (You Only Live Once) right? But things that you post online will stay there forever. It will be a too little too late when you realize that posting personal pictures and information was a bad idea. You have all the right to post whatever you feel like on your profile. But use your common sense and make sure that what you post is not going to haunt you later on. Make use of the privacy settings and select the best audience you wish to see your updates.
People are willing to help.
You may feel that you are all alone on this, and perhaps too embarrassed to tell anyone that this is happening to you. Cyberbullying could go on forever if you keep your mouth shut about it. Talk to someone who can help you, they may have some valuable advice that could support you. After all it’s good to have someone to back you up.
Social Networking is fun but…. Remember
If you are a victim of cyberbullying:
Take a screenshot of all the messages, comments and posts.
Keep all the details and timelines of the bully.
Talk to someone about it, you are not alone.
Most importantly do not get into any arguments with them online, and do not reply to their messages.
Social Media has become one of the utmost important parts of our day today activities as it facilitates us to communicate and build our online presence across the world. However the outcome of using social media with no safety measures could cost someone their life. Being cyberbullied is painful, often embarrassing and you may even think it’s not a big deal, but it is important to remember that you are not alone and you have the power to put a STOP to it.
What are you doing to ensure your safety online? Please take time to address these safety measures just like you would do to protect your own home from intruders.