The devastating effects of bullying on children and teenagers have received increased media attention in the last year, and bullying online, or cyberbullying, is a growing part of this problem. In an age where a person is connected to his friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances through various social networks, having hurtful information or pictures posted for everyone to see can cause deep emotional pain and distress. Popular social media sites are taking steps to try and curb this behavior.
Facebook recently unveiled new anti-bullying tools, including an improved safety center with multimedia tools and more tools to report bullying behavior. Facebook is a popular platform for bullies. Users can form groups targeting individuals or other groups, or they can post edited or unflattering pictures of their victims. The changes, which include reporting an incident to an authority figure or messaging the bully in question, are designed to give the victims more options. Facebook also featured a video last month from President Obama and the First Lady about the dangers of cyberbullying and the importance of treating others with respect.
Formspring, a social networking site that allows users to answer anonymous questions, is also a hotbed of bullying and antagonistic behavior. The website has a safety section that includes links on how to deal with cyberbullying and safety tools and advice. Formspring also teamed up with MIT researchers to look for a way to detect problematic content and put a stop to cyberbullying.
The issue of cyberbullying has captured the attention of world leaders, prestigious researchers, and the social networking websites that host much of this troubling behavior. In order to curb cyberbullying, there has been an increased effort to educate young internet users that their actions, while possibly intended as a joke or as harmless, can be emotionally damaging to the victims. For more information about cyberbullying, please check out these books from Pollak Library.
Post originally written by Cathy Vu, former Science Librarian.