A Lawyer’s View of Cyberbullying

When Mike Misanelli, a Philadelphia radio host, Tweeted Sunday, “Hey Giants fans, Victor Cruz is over. Dance to that,” many Giants’ fans started calling for Misanelli’s job.
Heeeeelzfan Tweeted, “Hopefully, we’ll be hearing soon from management at 97.5, ‘Mike Misanelli is over.’”
Misanelli’s tweet, sent when Giants’ player Victor Cruz was injured, stirred a vigorous online debate that quickly turned into a discussion of cyber-bullying.
Misanelli’s tweet may not rise to the level of what is traditionally considered to be cyber-bullying, but it did create a conversation and an opportunity to look at the latest form of bullying made possible by technology.

Cyberbullying is making use of technology to harass, threaten or verbally abuse and/or humiliate another person. Often, it can rise to the scope of cyber-stalking, a crime.
Over 15 percent of high school students claim to have been cyberbullied and 6 percent of the students in middle school say they have been on the receiving end of cyber-bullying.

Background
Some people find it humorous to post embarrassing images of a friend. The consequences are anything but laughable. From the victim’s perspective, it is impossible to remove the image and if the content goes viral, no one has any control of it. Victims of cyber-bullying may succumb to low self-esteem, isolation and school or job problems.

The perpetrator can suffer consequences as well. In this digital age, that posted image may just show up in a screening when they apply for college or a job. The bully may also be charged with a crime if sexual content was involved and the bully will have to register as a sex offender. Those are the kind of things that don’t disappear when the laughter stops.

Social Effects
Normally, bullies tend to pick on socially isolated people with few friends. Cyber-bullies tend to attack close friends or even people in a comparable social network. The result of the cyber-bulling can make a person feel isolated from their friends as well as make it difficult to enter a romantic relationship.

Law Enforcement
Law enforcement officials frequently have a difficult time in determining their role in dealing with bullying. Social networking and advances in communication tools complicate the issue. Historically, bullying happened inside, or close to, a school or neighborhood. Technology allows today’s bullies to extend their reach and their threat.

FBI Survey
Law enforcement officers assigned to schools will almost certainly encounter some form of cyber-bullying. A survey of law enforcement leaders attending the FBI National Academy (FBINA) in Quantico, Virginia showed that 94 percent of SROs feel that cyber-bullying is a serious problem that calls for law enforcement’s intervention. Seventy-eight percent said they had conducted one or more investigations into cyber-bullying the previous school year.

Notable Cases
A middle school boy, in 1998, created a website that threatened his algebra teacher and his school principal. According to a white-paper, published by Bucknell University, the school permanently expelled the student due to the threats and harassment.
Another case happened in 2003 when a 14 year old male received unwanted Internet attention. A video showing the boy dressed in a Jedi knight costume went viral. The boy was attacked by classmates who encouraged him to kill himself.

Suicide Resulting from Cyberbullying
In 2006, a girl named Megan Meier, committed suicide after a classmate, and the classmate’s mother, created a fake online persona and used the account to send hateful comments to Meier. Federal prosecutors took on the case and tried the mother-daughter team. A jury found the mom guilty of a single felony count of conspiracy and three misdemeanor counts of unauthorized computer use. On appeal, judges later acquitted the mother of the convictions.

Jessica Logan committed suicide in 2008 after nude images of her were circulated by students in Cincinnati. Logan’s family was awarded a settlement of over $150,000 in 2012. Ohio legislators later passed a law encouraging Ohio schools to increase teacher training in an effort to combat cyber-bullying. The law was called The Jessica Logan Act.

Prevention and Repercussions
Following the Columbine massacre in 1999, anti-bullying statues became widespread. States have continued to pass laws that require districts to establish, and follow, strict policies about cyber-bullying. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 34 states passed anti-bullying laws between 2005 and 2010. Now, when cyber-bullying includes a threat of violence, stalking, sexually-explicit photos or messages it rises to criminal behavior. Victims should file a report with local law enforcement.

About the author
Arkady Bukh is a nationally recognized attorney from New York who represents clients on high-profile cases, like Boston Marathon Bombings or famous cyber crime cases. Arkady is also a published author and contributor to NY/NJ Law Journal, LA Daily Journal, Law 360, Westlaw, Thomson Reuters, Nolo, and many other media. More

Building partnerships in tackling Cyberhate

The International Network Against CyberHate (INACH) recently held its annual conference which brought together key players from civil society, law enforcement and the industry to discuss how Cyberhate could best be tackled through partnerships. The presentations brought to light several interesting points on how to tackle cyberhate.

From law enforcement, the presentations showed that the very process of fighting cyberhate is a very time consuming and lengthy one. Websites that spread hate can take several months to several years to be taken down, especially for international websites. Removing such content from the internet often requires the clearing of many legal hurdles such as a clear mandate from a court, an official request from one law enforcement agency to another in case of international websites etc. This basically means that for individuals seeking for redress or that have been directly targeted by a specific website, the process can be extremely long and complex.

From the industry represented by Facebook and Twitter, most of the solutions involve reporting followed up by moderation and take-down. More recently, many social networks including Facebook and Twitter have started partnering up with local civil society organisations and providing them privileged access to reporting tools and the moderation team to take down material faster. Another recent trend is the encouragement of counter-speech, namely individuals that retaliate against negative messages with a flood of positive ones.

Finally, the civil society organisations presented many activities and good practices from their respective networks, ranging from tools to be used in classrooms to coordination and cooperation work on an international level.

During the conference, we intervened to underline the specifics of cyberbullying. One of the most important problems in tackling cyberbullying online is the timing of an intervention. By the time a reporting has been filed and a moderation team has processed it, much of the damage and impact on the victim has already been done and new offensive or hurtful material has been published.

The industry should take moderation a step further and involve users as volunteer moderators directly in order to speed up the moderation and review process. Many online services have already adopted such models each tailored to the services’ needs: Wikipedia and its voluntary contributors/editors or the “tribunal” in the online game League of Legends.

For more information about IN@CH, visit their website

Project Update

Internet trolls. Impersonations and stolen identities. Hateful and abusive comments. Intimidation, manipulation, written violence and bullying… The new social media opens fantastic possibilities to socialise, but the lawlessness of the Internet, its potential for casual, breath-taking cruelty, and its capacity to cloak a bully’s identity all present slippery new challenges to this transitional generation of analogue parents, teachers and youth workers.

Online bullying can be more psychologically savage and damaging than schoolyard bullying. The Internet erases inhibitions; anonymity gives way to uninhibited attacks, hatred, and violence. Many young cyber bullies don’t believe they have had an impact on their victims.

During the 1,5 years duration of the project we aimed at mapping existing cases, events, understanding the different aspects of the phenomena. We encouraged the involvement of children, parents, teachers through:

Despite the project’s official end, COFACE is planning to release an upgraded version of the app for Android and an iOS version in end October. In addition, a teacher’s manual will be made available to help teachers develop lesson plans on cyberbullying. Watch this space and don’t hesitate to contact us!

The Big March, our virtual protest against bullying and cyberbullying

The Big March 2014 / Over 100,000 Europeans are supporting our virtual protest against bullying and cyberbullying

BigMarch printscreen
To see the Big March live go to our website now (until 5.00 pm CET): www.coface-eu.org

More than half (55%) of children in Europe who have been bullied said they became depressed as a result, with over a third saying they harmed themselves (35%) or thought about suicide (38%), according to a new poll* conducted by BeatBullying and the #DeleteCyberbullying campaign.

The poll of more than 2,000 adults and children from across Europe found that worryingly, 34% of adults thought that bullying is regarded as a ‘normal part of growing up’, and one in six adults (16%) said it is regarded as ‘character building’ by most people in their country, raising concerns amongst campaigners that the pain caused by bullying still remains hidden to many European citizens.

To raise awareness of this issue and show their support for the millions of children affected, today, young people, parents, schools, and other organisations are joining The Big March 2014 to deliver a virtual petition to the European Commission, calling for new laws and much-needed funding to protect children from bullying and cyberbullying.

The hidden impact of cyberbullying

You can’t always see the pain caused by bullying, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

Please take a moment to watch and share our brand new Big March campaign video. Please share the video with your friends and family on Facebook, Twitter and any other social networks and help us spread the word!


Almost 95,000 people from across Europe are supporting BeatBullying and #DeleteCyberbullying’s Big March campaign which will take place on 11 June. We are marching online for every child that has hidden their tears, bruises, and scars.

Find out more about what we’re fighting for and sign up today at bigmarch.beatbullying.org

Thank you.

BeatBullying and #DeleteCyberbullying

#DeleteCyberbullying App is available now!

dcapp

Are you a worried parent, fearing your child may be cyberbullyied or cyberbullying someone?
Or a teacher who wants to explore the topic of cyberbullying in class?
Are you a teenager who has received some nasty text messages or witnessed cyberbullying?

Download our free, interactive app, that contains:

- An interactive quiz for teenagers, parents and teachers that displays customized feedback based on the responses to the quiz and redirects the user to the most relevant information sources, material or help in case a user has experienced cyberbullying.
- A quiz to test your knowledge about cyberbullying and the internet in general, with the possibility to share your score on Facebook and get more information about cyberbullying.
- A “one touch” button for help in case the user is in need of direct assistance.
- An awareness raising video embedded in the app (english) or on Youtube (multiple languages available).
- A survey for teachers to help better understand their experience and expectations regarding cyberbullying.
- A section with more information about the project and the app.

Read more: goo.gl/9dLqhL

Final conference and App launch

The event will be held on 4th June, 15:00-18:00 CET, followed by a light drinks reception at the Northern Ireland Executive Brussels Office. [Live streaming available].

The programme and more information here

One and a half years after the launch of the #DeleteCyberBullying Project, it is time to take stock of the milestones and achievements of the campaign and look at the challenges that still lie ahead.

The work achieved by the project is the successful cooperation of eight organisations from seven different countries, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, the UK, Bulgaria, Greece and Finland. The partners brought different perspectives and experience to the project, but all agreed, that effective prevention and early detection of cyberbullying is key, and can be best achieved by informing parents, teachers and teens about the different forms it can take, and how to react.

DC INFOG

The project was a very ambitious undertaking, and among others delivered a successful European conference in Madrid in May 2013, a very popular short educational animation (with over 50.000 views on YouTube), as well as the app for phones and tablets, for the time being in Android version, with the iOS version expected by September. The project also calls upon the expression of solidarity and civic courage through the virtual, online Big March to be held on the 11 June 2014.

Through the tools developed by the partnership, key messages are to speak up, and tell a trusted adult about cyberbullying.