Twitter troll seems like a mild term to use when you see how some people are bullying online with real venom. Comments go well beyond a couple of luke-warm or controversial digs.
We’re talking slander, abuse and some cases threats. I mean what are we coming to? I Tweeted during NZ's Got Talent on Sunday night and I couldn’t believe the level of some people’s commentary in the twitter feed – it goes beyond 'mean' or as some students say, ‘just a joke’.
I don’t think Charlotte Dawson thought her twitter attack was anything less than malicious and grossly offensive, when she checked herself in for some treatment after her recent abuse online.
No surprises then, that the Law Commission wants to crack down on the “call to crack down on "cyber-bullying" because of concern that it can contribute to suicides.” But in the same article, Cyber-bullying law a blunder, have they got this wrong?
“The problem with such an approach is that it isolates bullying of the online kind without dealing with the wider issue of bullying in general whether at school, the home or at work. Bullying, whether it occurs in the virtual or the real world is still bullying. Why make one illegal and not the other?”
Having read an account from a cyberbully, it makes me wonder just how sickened and worried we should be about this social ill, both online and off? No doubt we have all been victims of personal or workplace bullying online or off, so how can we collectively deal with this issue?
In his post, Digital citizenship – the sad tale of Charlotte, Andrew Churches offers some top tips for dealing with the 'trolls' at a personal level. Anything else to add - for ourselves and our students?
If you liked this, you might also like:
Close Up tonight 7pm TV1 - The science of cyber bullying - is Social Media making us meaner?
The science of cyber-bullying
"American medical research suggests we are less empathetic than previous generations, and social media could be behind the findings.
With cases of celebrities being hospitalised after receiving taunts on Twitter and vile messages being thrown around do Facebook and Twitter have a lot to answer for?"
TVNZ News: 1 in 5 high school students fall victim to cyberbullying through cellphones and the Internet (email, blogs, messaging sites, social media), some resulting in suicide.
The government is planning to set up an anti-cyber bullying agency to address these issues.
The consequences for indecent or obscene messages: $2000 fine, 3 months behind bars. Some can be jailed for up to 3 years for goading victims to commit suicide.
While there is support (NetSafe) for these proposals, others question the funding for this.
What do you think?
What has been presented is actually a whole range of approaches to combat harm experienced online. Jail terms and fines are just one part of a multi level approach. We should be looking in depth at what the law commision suggested. If you haven't had a chance to read the ministerial briefing paper, I would strongly advise we all do so before we form our opinions of the announcements made yesterday.
It is hard to argue (from our perspective) that the current situation for those who experience harm online is an acceptable one. There is no doubt there are gaps in our current legislation that don't provide statutory protection to individuals that are experiencing significant harm.
What we are looking at are, in my opinion a proportional response to the kind of harm that people are experiencing. This is not about locking people up because they say something mean, this is about protecting individuals from "significant emotional harm" as defined by a series of principles, and looking at them in context of the victims age, vulnerability, the context of the communication, the public interest, use in satire or humour, amongst other criteria.
This is not an assault of freedom of expression, this is a process that provides a framework for a response and resolution for harmful communications, and an indication of what is and is not acceptable in terms of the way in which we relate to each other online.
Sean (CTO, NetSafe)