Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Don't Blame Twitter or Other Platforms for Cyberbullying

It always baffles me when the advice given to someone who is bulled, by their lawyer or their friends, is to delete their Twitter or Facebook accounts.

Cyberbullying and trolling isn't the platform's problem. It isn't even the network privacy settings. It's the fault of the assholes who are perpetrating the bullying. Period.

Mike Klein (@kleinkleinklein) said this in a post on TechCrunch: "Online abuse is omnipresent and not exclusive to one platform over another. It’s a behavior that starts with a mentality, not a platform."

So in other words, blame the person, not the platform. Sure, the owners of the platform are held accountable to waive their magic fairy dust to rid these trolls from abusing the decent, law-abiding users. However, they are not miracle workers and face it, it you have trouble managing 200 emails a day, imagine what it might be like to manage over one billion Facebook accounts every day. It's why the reporting option doesn't always get you justice, kind of like our court systems. But for all platforms, there are two surefire buttons that will rid you of THAT bully:

Delete and Block.

I was watching one of my Facebook friend's post comments get hijacked by a single "friend" who decided that nobody else's opinion mattered but his, Instead of editing his first post and add to it (like most of us might do), he posted thought after thought, but really, they were more hate speak, trolling, and bullying than intelligent thought. I unfollowed the feed so that I wouldn't keep getting notification of his diatribe. The only reply my friend made was that he was confirming the point she made in the original post. He continued and continued.

A week from now or a year from now, when Facebook gives people a look back at their activity, will that person still stand by his diatribe? Will he be proud to see it? Or will he finally see it with the eyes of the people who do not know him, who use his posts as a way to determine his character?

You do have control as to what you post, but also on what you see in your own feed. If you don't like what you see day in and day out (as when I hear friends complain about the drama in the Facebook feeds), then get better friends. YOU choose what you see. If you like the friend but don't like the posts, unfollow them while still remaining friends. You don't have to keep them as friends, especially if you don't know them well. But when you open up your networks, if you are not inspired, educated, entertained, or even interested by the home feed, find better friends to follow who will offer you that option.

In the case of being trolled or cyberbullied, if it's an onslaught and too much to handle (as in the case of Twitter pooping), don't delete your account, rather change your notifications. You don't have to be alerted to every tweet. You can take a break, but when you do, find the strength to shake off these strangers who have no clue as to who you are and are just living in their parents' basement jerking off to Spiderman comics. They don't deserve your reaction, your fear, your sadness, or your anger. Mute them as if they are the political pundits you hate to see on the cable news station. When you see them, think about Foghorn Leghorn: "Your mouth is flapping and nothing comes out."

You deserve to be heard. You deserve to be on the platform, front and center like everyone else. These cyberbullies are just mosquitoes in a forest of tweets. Slap them away.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

When a Bad Decision Goes Horribly Wrong. The Tiziana Catone Story.

September 13, 2016: a beautiful 31-year-old Italian woman is dead.

Tiziana Catone lived a public hell. She tried twice to end her pain, but finally succeeded on try number three. A desperate plea for help for a system that could not save her.

It all started with a sex tape, one that she willingly made, and then sent to a couple of friends. It was a mistake she could never take back.

Almost immediately, the tape was posted online, reshared, and viewed over a million times -- without her knowledge and without her consent. There were t-shirts, smartphone covers ... a serious marketing campaign was created at her expense, to which she never saw a dime.

Tiziana was mortified. She did everything she could to get her life back. She tried moving, changing her identity, but the notoriety followed her to the ends of the earth.

She won a "Right to Be Forgotten" ruling and the video and all of its chemtrails were ordered offline. It didn't work and the courts invoiced her 20,000 euros for her efforts.

She hung herself at her aunt's house.

Even in death, the bullying continues. Yes, she may have been naive to think such a video might stay private. But if you really look at the backlash against her, would it be so horrific if she were a man? (Hint: the lover in the video didn't have to change his identity. He doesn't have his name up in lights, or had to go to court to fight for a Right to Be Forgotten order.)

Tiziana Catone saw no way out and felt that society actually bought her the rope. Her life didn't matter. Why? Over a sex tape? What about Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian? They made their careers from a sex tape. Why don't you hear about the man getting beat up online about his involvement?

For all the Tiziana Catones out there, I hope there is another way. Perhaps if one can build up their personal shield to deflect all the bullshit, they can eventually call out the haters and expose the hypocrisy of this type of cyberbullying. In the case of Tiziana's family, what they should do is sue the bastards for royalties.

If the cybercriminals can't be held accountable on criminal law, then maybe it's time to get them to pay up from the commercial side.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Who Are Adult Cyberbullies?

Workplace bullies follow you home on the computer.

Stalkers lurk on your ever post, your every digital move.

Your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse seeks revenge and talks trash about you on Facebook or publishes your private intimate photos and videos on YouTube and in spam text.

Disgruntled clients create a web page to destroy your business.

Unsuccessful job candidates seek revenge and create a web page to destroy your business.

Creditors troll your Facebook and send messages to your friends to ask questions about you. 

Strangers take issue with your looks, your name, your profession, your gender, your social status, your sexual preference, or your existence.

You don't have to go far to find an adult cyberbully. They sit in every nook and cranny of your computing devices, lying in wait, ready to pounce, just because technology makes it easy for them to do so.

@notonmyinternet shared a link to a 2015 New Yorker article that talks about how the Internet has changed basic bullying. Bullying researchers are finally seeing that cyberbullying isn't just a school age problem. It's as equally, or more, prevalent in the adult world.

The article admits: "To date, no one has systematically studied how different bullying settings affect bullying behavior..." Three years ago, when I began researching business and adult cyberbullying, there were very few links to people talking about it. The search engines would only bring up school bullies. Today, there are a handful of links, but most still revert to children.

There is a lot of room for psychologists and academic researchers to step up their game. Our lives and our economies depend on it. If you think about the impact cyberbullying has financially on adults and businesses ... if only there were more statistics. Because only then will our law enforcement have any teeth to prevent it.