This article was originally published on Digital Journal by Marvin Dumon. It can be accessed here.
Cyberbullying can be more pervasive than traditional forms of bullying. Bullying at school as well as pranks can be more easily detected by teachers, administrators and fellow students.
A recent bulletin on cyberbullying and sexting published by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) advises law enforcement agencies across the U.S. that “the growth of cell phones and Internet usage among teens has altered youth social and conduct norms.”
The FBI cyberbullying report adds that “cyberbullying is one of the most significant new issues law enforcement has to address. Anecdotal and research-based accounts from police across the nation depicted a lack of clear guidance, training, and support. This is unfortunate because bullying is an age-old problem with recent forms often relying on technological devices and mediums.”
States have been passing anti-bullying legislation designed to curb aggressive behavior within school premises. In late June, Kansas and Oklahoma passed tougher measures designed to protect kids when they’re at school.
In recent years, IT firms have introduced innovations designed to prevent children from being exposed to bullying, profanity, and pornography on the Internet. Some industry insiders believe that the marketplace has a growing need for such tools given that today’s media platforms convey “shock information” as a means for enticing attention, web traffic, and ultimately, higher levels of monetization.
Albert Einstein said that, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” This is exemplified by the suicide of Tyler Clementi in 2010, then a freshman student at Rutgers University, who killed himself by jumping off a bridge after learning that his roommate used a webcam to spy on him having sex with another man.
Joshua Buxbaum of California-based WebPurify believes that social media sites — such as Facebook and Twitter — could do a better job of filtering out inappropriate content through the use of live moderators in addition to the use of monitoring software. The company, which is headquartered in Los Angeles, offers content moderation services, including tools that block out videos and images containing vulgarity and aggressive content.
“It’s tragic enough that videos like this exist, but exposing users to traumatic content and destroying a company’s brand is completely avoidable,” says Buxbaum, a co-founder of WebPurify. “There is no way around this; real live human beings, not software, need to be reviewing every video before it goes live.”
A 2013 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire finds that as many as 25 percent of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying at some point. Within 30 days in which the survey was conducted, the researchers found that nearly 10 percent of the nearly 15,000 teens who participated in the nationwide study have been victims of cyberbullying.
“Not having the proper safeguards in place . . . is extremely irresponsible. [Our] team . . . moderates content . . . [and] implemented systems to immediately alert our clients when that content contains potentially illegal or dangerous material” said Jonathan Freger, also a co-founder.
“Cyberbullying and sexting are significant problems facing teens and schools because of the psychological, emotional, behavioral, and physical repercussions that can stem from victimization,” according to the FBI’s bulletin. “School administrators recognize the severity of these issues, and promising practices provide these educators what they need to know about cyberbullying and sexting, their prevention, and the proper responses when incidents arise.”