When Cyberbullying Becomes an Adult Problem.
We’ve seen a lot of stories in the media lately discussing cyberbullying amongst children, and the statistics are indeed frightening. However, I think it’s important to call attention the the fact that cyberbullying affects adults as well. The word “bullying” itself immediately conjures up images of school children pushing each other on the playground; very rarely do we associate it with university students, young professionals, or elite professionals. Yet more and more we are seeing cases of adults being bullied online. With apps such as BurnBook or Yik Yak it is becoming easier and easier to say something harmful online anonymously and suffer little to no consequences. A 2014 study by the Pew Research Center reported that 40% of adults have experienced the fallout from being bullied online. FORTY PERCENT.
The digital age has given us an era complete with data storage, global communication, and information at our fingertips. While this has had a largely positive impact on society there are also some negative aspects to be aware of, such as:
- Anyone can do a google search and find information about just about anything- including other people.
- Anyone can say something defamatory online and hide behind a fake profile or even worse – – post it in an app or on a site such as thedirty.com, which posts “information” about an individual without checking facts.
- People can save anything that you have said in a text, email, or online forum and potentially use it against you at a later date.
- Your devices are probably not as secure as you think they are, which means some things on your phone, laptop, or tablet could potentially be downloaded without your permission.
Therefore, adults are being bullied too, whether it’s something as simple as leaving a hurtful comment on someone’s Instagram or something as grave as actual slander on an internet forum. We no longer live in the times where “cyberbullying” stopped at middle schoolers arguing over AOL instant messenger. These days something negative that is said about you online, whether true or untrue, can hurt a high school student’s chances at getting into a good college, it could hurt a college student’s chances of securing a job after graduation, it could hinder young professionals from obtaining a promotion or even get you fired, and it can cause damage to a legitimate business.
But, all is not lost. There are some precautions that you can take to keep the internet bullies at bay.
- Be careful what you put on the internet. Social media is NOT secure. Remember those “terms of service” you probably didn’t bother read when signing up for facebook and instagram? Well, it says in them that any photos you post become public domain unless previously copyrighted. So be cautious what you are sharing with the public.
- If you are storing photos that you wouldn’t want anyone to see on your mobile device download an app called Photovault. Photovault is still not 100% secure but it does make you set 3 different passwords to get into it, which makes it much harder for someone to obtain your private photos should your phone be lost or stolen.
- When turning in your phone or laptop to be serviced be sure that no personal and private information is accessible- this means stored credit card information, stored purchase information, your search history, private photos or videos, business correspondence that is classified, etc.
- Don’t engage the bullies. If someone is posting negative things about you online do not respond, do not argue with them, do not give them a reason to continue their behavior, just do not do it. This will give you a stronger case should you have to pursue a defamation lawsuit.
- If something negative about you appears online or you are being bullied anonymously give Viriant a call. We can help you or your client unmask anonymous posters and help to strengthen your case against them.