Smartphones and social media apps have moved many of our social interactions online. Unfortunately, that has moved bullying and aggression online, too. Cyberbullying occurs when one intimidates or harasses another on digital platforms or through an electronic device, such as a cellphone or computer. For example, one person posts offensive images or comments of another person on social media that negatively impacts that person’s dignity. Another example is when someone threatens another person with violence over text messages. Examples include:
- Spreading lies about or posting embarrassing photos or videos of someone on social media
- Sending hurtful, abusive, or threatening messages, images, or videos via messaging platforms
- Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or through fake accounts.
Where are we now?
Today’s top social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram provide powerful tools for users to report inappropriate behavior, block users, and even alert administrators. This allows platforms to monitor and take swift action when bullying is happening. Additionally, many platforms have anti-bullying policies in place that help to prevent and address bullying. These policies provide clear guidance on what constitutes bullying, how to report it, and what punishments may be imposed for those who engage in it. Lastly, social media platforms can also be used to promote anti-bullying messages and campaigns. By sharing stories of people who have been victims of bullying, spreading positive messages, and encouraging people to stand up for those who are being bullied, social media can be a powerful tool for creating a culture of acceptance and respect.
While social media platforms are a great way to keep up with friends, family, and celebrities, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of online bullying on social media. Still, that doesn’t mean you should avoid it altogether. There are several ways to use social media in a positive way and protect yourself from cyberbullying. Here are a few tips:
- Only add people you know and trust to your social media accounts
- Be careful about what you post and share; think about how your words might be interpreted by others
- If you see something negative or hurtful online, don’t respond. This will only escalate the situation.
- Block or report anyone who is sending you abusive or threatening messages.
- Report any abusive behavior to the site or platform where it occurred.
As part of our #AntibullyingWeek2022 campaign, we partnered with Mam’Connie Chiume, an advocate and counselor to both young and old, to pioneer our online safety drive campaign against cyberbullying called Safer Internet, Better World. Along with Ilizwe Lam trainer Kagiso Sithole who discussed some of the topics that come up in the #IlzweLam Internet safety sessions, and Rianette, from Cyber Wellness with Rianette.
Facebook has recently introduced new features that allow users to flag bullying posts or share their experiences with others in the community. Facebook has started using artificial intelligence to identify and remove abusive or harmful content. This is done by identifying language that is frequently associated with cyberbullying, such as “I’m going to kill you” or “go die.” Twitter has also started using AI-powered tools, which scan tweets for keywords associated with harassment and abuse and then lock accounts until they delete the offending tweet or post a tweet apologizing for the behavior.
One of the best ways to curb cyberbullying is by educating yourself about internet safety, cultivating a safe and comfortable space by being a good digital citizen, and learning tools to help you stay safe online. That is why we have transformed our online safety education from Ilizwe Lam into an innovative WhatsApp bot called Kitso (Knowledge) that caters to teachers and parents.
Say ‘Hi’ to Kitso today!
Packed with interactive quizzes, engaging graphics, and audio content, Kitso will captivate you throughout your journey, as you learn:
- Introduction To Your Online Presence
- Protecting Your Privacy
- Navigating False Information
- Building Your Online Community
- Digital Tools For The Classroom
- Using Digital Tools To Make A Difference
Just say hi to Kitso, our free WhatsApp learning bot that will aid you with valuable Internet safety skills for your future!