Online Bullying: How Big of a Problem Is It?

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Online Bullying: How Big of a Problem Is It?

Carson Redmond, Staff Reporter

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Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were created, according to their mission statements, to bring the world closer together, inspire creativity, and to help people keep in touch. Instead, these platforms have turned into places where bullies can lurk, thriving on harassing innocent users and people using these apps.

Although the mission statements of the companies are very positive, there are not enough steps being put in place to help the people who are falling victim to cyberbullies.

An article from The Washington Post reports that both teenagers and adults believe that cyberbullying is a significant problem that is sweeping the nation; this problem is in dire need of attention. 

Since the creation of these social media platforms, there have been countless instances of young kids and teenagers putting themselves in harm’s way because of bullies making them feel like they are unimportant and unwanted.

For example, a young man named David Knight had a website created about him stating that he was a pedophile and calling him gay slurs, and the website also invited other people to participate in bullying David. Thankfully, David did not hurt himself because of the website. I think that legal actions should be mandatory when situations like these happen.

A study that came out last year suggests that Instagram is one of the biggest platforms in which people experienced cyberbullying with 42 percent, while Facebook and Snapchat are behind at 37 percent and 31 percent. These statistics become darker when you consider that there are one billion people on Instagram; nearly half of them have experienced cyberbullying.

Since cyberbullying has become more common, many systems have been set in place to try to prevent these situations from starting. Instagram and Facebook have created anti-bullying software to try to help victims by reporting the bullies’ accounts and pointing out the accounts that have been proven to bully people online.

Instagram is using an algorithm that detects these profiles that are bullying other accounts. The algorithm, created by Facebook (the owner of Instagram), uses artificial intelligence to review words, their meanings, and their contexts, similar to how our brain works. This is a good start in a long road to ending this cycle of bullying, whether it be behind a screen or face to face. Although the algorithm is a good start, there should be other significant and immediate changes set in place to defeat this issue of cyberbullying.

Along with the software that social media companies have created, the government has also created a website that helps people point out exactly what bullying is, and ways to try to prevent it. While these are great steps in trying to stop the existence of bullying, the internet is too advanced and endless to truly limit all bullying.

There is always the risk of getting your feelings hurt while on the internet, but I think that there should be more legal action when someone is found guilty of saying things that cross the line about other people, or saying things that could potentially cause unthinkable actions to happen.

Cyberbullying is a big deal because of the effects that it has on the youth in our generation. If people are found guilty in causing harm to innocent people, the bullies should face either jail time or community service for their actions, depending on the severity of the situation. On a smaller scale, if our school finds out about people who are cyberbullying other students at La Salle, the administration should figure out how serious the action is, and then punish the bully accordingly.

Photo by Katka Pavlickova on Unsplash. Used with permission.