How much can your virtual life affect your real life?

In the previous post, my colleague Diana was saying that social media is something that got completely out of control and is now impossible to monitor. I totally agree with her statement.

The list of most famous social network sites counts 203 different ones, such as: delicious (22,000,000  registered users), Facebook (more than 1 bn registered users), Flickr (32,000,000 registered users), Foursquare (20,000,000 registered users), LinkedIn (160,000,000 registered users), Twitter (more than 500,000,000 registered users) etc. Furthermore, according to Dr. Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbyllying Research Center, 20% of this online population are offenders.

Is it ethical to ignore the cyber bulling when affects reputation, career and personal life?

Charlotte Dawson, Australian Top Model and host of the TV Show Australia’s Next Top Model ended in hospital after Twitter attack. The war started after the model tracked down one alleged Twitter hater: Tanya Heti, which was suspended from her mentoring job at Melbourne’s Monash University.


(* Charlotte Dawson describes Twitter abuse. on TV)

Charlotte than appeared on the Nine Network’s A Current Affair and Ten Network’s The Project to speak out about Twitter bullying and how she dealt with it.  After the night of her TV appearence she was targeted by hundreds Twitter users receiving messages such as:

“neck yourself you filthy s***”

“please put your face in a toaster”

“please hand yourself promptly”

“It’s a very good thing that you cannot breed”

“how the f*** did you become a model”

Users are not taking this seriously. “Kids get the idea that the online environment is almost like Las Vegas — what happens online is going to stay online,” said Deborah Temkin, Research and Policy Coordinator for Bullying Prevention Initiatives at the U.S. Department of Education. Users feel free to express their own opinion online because they know that they are not going to be held responsible for their online behaviour.

How can you ignore when somebody sais those things to you? Keep in mind that we are not talking about one or two tweets…but hundreds.

Would you be able to ignore hundreds of people attacking you without a reaction?



Social media becoming UNsocial: Trolling

How many of you are aware of the term “trolling”? The “digitalisation” era has brought, together with its innovations, a couple of drawbacks. And one of them is internet trolls: “an abusive or obnoxious user who uses shock value to promote arguments and disharmony in online communities”. Named after the wicked troll creatures of children’s tales, an internet troll is someone who stirs up drama and abuses their online anonymity by purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, mysogyny, or just simple squabbling between others. Trolls are everywhere (blog sites, game chats, news sites, forums) as they enjoy being seen and receiving attention.

In most of the cases, trolls enjoy making fun of or judging other people, as the computer screen protects their identity and they always remain virtually untouchable. I truly believe that the best approach to trolls is ignoring them and just pressing the “spam” button; but what happens when their online activity put other people’s lives in danger?

Trolling is part of an international phenomenon that includes cyber bullying. One of the first cases took place in the US state of Missouri in 2006, when 13-year-old Megan Meier committed suicide after being bullied online. The bully, Lori Drew, was a middle-aged neighbour who had set up a MySpace account to win – and later betray – her trust. Drew was acquitted of unauthorised computer use in 2009 due to concerns that a conviction would criminalise false online identities.

So, my question to you is: who should be responsible for tackling bullying? Is it the Police or the social networking sites where all these comments are posted? Considering the fact that there are cases when people lose their lives because of trolling, the phenomenon should become a criminal offence in its own right and at present, the arrest category of “internet trolling” does not exist.

The Communications Act 2003, which governs the internet, email, mobile phone calls and text messaging is sometimes used to catch the worst serial offenders. Under section 127 of the Act, it is an offence to send messages that are “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character” whether those targeted receive the message or not. But police seem reluctant to implement the Act and only two people were jailed for trolling last year.

From my perspective, Police and the social networking sites should work together, as online anonymity is quite difficult to handle. Police should have the power to force internet providers to hand over the details of trolls and Facebook and Twitter should be made to take down any troll comments.

Current research shows that 1 in 3 people are bullied online. I strongly believe that we should start finding solutions and addressing this problem. What do you think it would work? Online moderators? Better social media policies? New laws?

Tell us your view.