Online bullying is a modern day phenomenon which has been aided by the increasing number of social networking sites. Facebook has come up top in a recent survey investigating where ‘trolling’ is most prevalent, claiming 87% of the reported abuse. What may be a surprise to some people is that the category of people victimised most is 19 year old boys. The report showed that 65% of bullying among teenagers occurred online and what is more worrying is that 34% said that it lasted more than a month.
Facebook have defended their site claiming they have a strict policy do not to tolerate bullying.
There are many measures in place to deal with it, for instance users can block others and report abuse, the site maintains that they take such reports seriously and can remove threats quickly. Despite this the majority of teenagers do not make use of the protection in place with 60% never having reported the problem. Part of the difficulty therefore lies with teenagers lack of faith in gaining support, many of them felt that nothing would be done and only 17% felt comfortable telling their parents about the problem.
Although the report names Facebook as the most common social network for trolling there was evidence of abuse linked to other social networking sites with twitter coming in second with 19% of abuse. In an earlier report almost a third of people claimed to know someone who has been subject to abuse and one in ten has experienced it themselves. The report also interestingly showed that 2% of the public admitted to sending abusive messages to strangers on the internet. This shows that trolls don’t always have a strong motive or personal connection to the victims; they may just simply do it because they feel they can get away with it. A unique aspect of the internet is that it enables people to remain anonymous or set up fake accounts so they don’t fear getting caught.
Knowthenet have a section dedicated to advising those who find themselves victims of trolling. In order to overcome the problem victims need to start seeking support and make use of precautions in place on individual social networking sites.