Reducing Anonymity would not reduce Cyber Bullying
Recently, cyber bullying has been on the rise in the social media. Increase of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, twitter, and MySpace has accelerated the rise of cyber bullying. Cyber bullying includes intimidation through physical threats, intentional and purposeful embarrassment, and sexual harassment. The vice of bullying in the various online platforms has also been increased due to increasing of mobile phones use by teenagers and children. Internet use has spread among children even as low as nine years and therefore preying on them becomes an easy task to the bullies.
Cyber bullying in most cases targets the vulnerable groups as they easily give in to intimidation. These vulnerable groups include young, teenagers/young adults, and women who frequent various online platforms for social interactions. Entry into these platforms is not restricted to age or locality, and one is only known with the details they use to register. Therefore, it is very difficult to authenticate the details given by parties registering in the sites. Evidently, social platforms are full of anonymity, which acts as a backdrop for the bullies to hide from their targets. Most of the social platforms ask for correct details during the signing up process to reduce anonymity. However, the bullies keen on terrorizing other people still sign up using fake details hence remaining anonymous and free to intimidate their prey.
To reduce cyber bullying, it is important to find a way to reducing anonymity on the social platforms. Cyber bullies push their prey to the wall even to the extent of making them commit suicide. Authenticating the social media users’ details would help in reducing anonymity and assist in identifying the bullies for apprehension. However, this is not easy since new apps that promote interactions on anonymity are developed continuously. Thus, it makes it difficult to reduce anonymity and therefore does not help in cyber bullying prevention. Therefore, the Users of the apps are to free to interact the way they want and with whom they chose. Thus, the app developers ensure that they remain anonymous to attract as many users as possible. For example, Spring. Me, Ask. FM and Kik (Miners 12).
According to research conducted by Bryce and Fraser on teenage and young adult users of social media, it was found out that about 73% of them have experienced cyber bullying. Half of these users do not know the bullies due to their anonymity. Increasing incidents of cases of cyber bullying have convinced the social platforms users that cyber bullying is part of their online life and cannot be avoided. Both the adults and the teenagers agree that cyber bullying is wrong and affects them negatively but have the mentality that they can do nothing about it. This mentality is the reason most victims of the bullies suffer in silence and the pressure inserted on them driving them to harm themselves. Most cases of cyber bullying, therefore, are not reported to the relevant authorities. Lack of reporting the bullies give them confidence that they can harass anyone and get away with it (783-87).
In conclusion, even though the reduction of anonymity in the social media will make the users visible and identifiable in case of criminal offences, it might not stop cyber bullying. This is because the bullies already know that the users take harassment as a norm and cannot report them to the authorities. What ought to be done in reducing cybercrime is education of the Internet users that cyber harassment is a crime and cases of it should be reported to the authorities.
Bryce, Jared., and Fraser, Jones. “It’s Common Sense that it’s Wrong”: Young People’s Perceptions and Experiences of Cyber Bullying. Cyberpyschology, Behavior, and Social Networking 16.11 (2013): 783-787.
Miners, Zoe. Myspace Verdict Raises Identity Questions. District Administration, 45.1 (2009): 12.