Online communities are all about getting users and members to engage with one another, to find a way to connect, have a conversation, and collaborate. Communities are typically built on common interests, giving people the opportunity to share what inspires them. Unfortunately, there are those that would take that information for inappropriate use. And conversations can sometime lead to disagreements which can get very forceful. Something simple could escalate, and that could lead to harassment or cyberbullying.
Offensive communication, aggression, or bullying is becoming a growing problem for online communities.
According to cyberbullying.org 24% of girls and 22% of boys between the ages of 13 and 17 report being cyberbullied while 35% of transgender teens reported being cyberbullied.
Cyberbullying is not only associated with children or teenagers. Adults can also be victims. According to Pew research four-in-ten U.S. adults have personally experienced bullying or abusive behaviour online. Physical threats and sexual harassment have been perpetrated against 18 percent of those surveyed.
What Constitutes Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is sending, uploading, or spreading unpleasant, harmful, misleading, or nasty content about another person. It can involve embarrassment or humiliation caused by sharing intimate or confidential information, or it might be shouting down differing opinions through trolling and disparaging comments. Cyberbullying takes place in social media, forums, businesses, organizations, or gaming communities – even in your own community.
This type of bullying became more prevalent during the COVID-19 lock-downs. According to studies, cyberbullying soared by 70% and toxicity on online platforms, including gaming, increased by 40% during stay-at-home orders. These figures show that, despite more information and enhanced bullying prevention initiatives, cyberbullying incidents are on the rise.
How can we Prevent Cyberbullying?
Research shows that people who are cyberbullied experience a variety of negative reactions, including emotional, physical, mental, and academic difficulties. It is difficult to judge and prevent, but there are things we can do in our online communities to reduce the chances of having members or ourselves being targeted. This includes putting in place safety measures and having continuing discussions about cyberbullying within community discussions. You should talk about what cyberbullying is, the risks that come with it, how it can get out of hand, and what you should do if you see someone being bullied.
Here are a few security measures to safeguard yourself and your accounts.
Each social media and online network have its own set of features that allow you to control who can comment on or view your posts, as well as who can automatically connect as a friend. They also have protocols to report incidents of bullying. Many of these are basic actions such as blocking, or a simple form to complete to report cyberbullying. Always review the guidelines and processes of the platform so you know what to do if needed.
Remember, community administrators are there to protect the community and should be the first line of defence against cyberbullying. Consider where cyberbullying occurs in your community and how you can help — by speaking up, calling out bullies, reaching out to trusted people in the community, or raising awareness about the problem. Make sure your community guidelines are strong and completely address how members should handle situations.
By working together as a community, cyberbullying can be stopped, and members can feel supported, secure, and safe.
A strong online platform like Bizligo helps to create secure virtual networking and collaboration opportunities. People can develop stronger connections and relationships in a trusted and safe environment.
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