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Is Facebook’s New Way to Confront Cyberbullying Going to Work?

Is Facebook’s New Way to Confront Cyberbullying Going to Work?

In recent years, we’ve seen a growing number of teens engage in cyberbullying, as well as a growing number of teens kill themselves over the torment. Better late than never, Facebook, the world’s most popular social media site, is instituting a new anti-bullying initiative to counter the rash of cyberbullying occurring on its site, particularly among its teenage users.

To counter this emerging culture of peer-to-peer cruelty, Facebook teamed with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence to create the Bullying Prevention Hub. Though prior efforts have been made to raise awareness on the subject of bullying, this new program aims to address the problem directly. According to a Facebook blog post, the Bullying Prevention Hub will “offer important tools to help people stand up for each other when they see bullying behavior, both online and off.”

When people, specifically teens, see bullying, there will be a button nearby to report instances of bullying. There will also be a second button asking the young bullying victims whether they’d like to connect with an adult (someone they are already “friends” with on Facebook) to talk about the bullying.

The hope is that by making it easy to involve a trusted adult in cases of bullying, the victim will receive emotional support and no longer feel alone. In many cases, due to a lack of communication and awareness, adults are in the dark about bullying, particularly bullying that occurs on the internet.

Of course, adults aren’t always innocent of cyberbullying children themselves. A Michigan woman was caught harassing her young, terminally ill neighbor online. More recently, a group of moms making fun of toddlers with developmental disabilities was exposed on Facebook. Other times, the reverse is true and adults are the subject of teenagers’ bullying. In particular, there is a rising trend of students ganging up against their teachers on online forums.

It is not yet clear what repercussions – if any — users reported for bullying will face from Facebook. However, the Bullying Prevention Hub assures that the alleged bullies will become part of the conversation as well. The site says it will offer “guidance to the person accused of bullying on what he or she has done and how he or she can do better.”

Truthfully, some of the scripts and conversation-starters Facebook employs to facilitate discussions between victims, bullies, and adults seem pretty hokey and might be a turn-off for teens. That said, Facebook developed these suggestions after consulting with bullying prevention experts, so there is research and experience to back up the methods.

Whether the Hub will prove successful, however, is another issue. For what it’s worth, Facebook has showed early commitment to monitoring the program and ensuring that it works. On December 5, Facebook will hold “Compassion Research Day” to unveil early data on how it users have used the anti-bullying app.

Nevertheless, Facebook is already facing criticism for not bringing the same changes to its popular Instagram app. Since the photo sharing offshoot has become the new popular place for teens and kids to interact, much of the cyberbullying now takes place there instead.

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98 comments

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11:10AM PST on Nov 19, 2013

I doubt it'll help.

6:20PM PST on Nov 16, 2013

TYFS

3:28PM PST on Nov 13, 2013

I wish parents and teachers would stop making light of bullying- we need to tell kids that they do not need to be friends with someone they don't like, but bullying of that person is not going to be tolerated.

2:29PM PST on Nov 13, 2013

Worth trying.

7:35PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

It is not the victims that need to get off of facebook, but the bullies that need to be isolated. Yes, kids need to be taught not to be victims, to not let people get to them with words, to see being different as a virtue so that attacking them for it becomes moot. But it is more important to teach kids to respect others, to see the virtues of their differences, to accept and embrace the fact that everyone is of value, and that tearing someone else down does nothing to build you up. It doesn't make you powerful, or in control, or liked. It just makes you someone outside of the circle of respect. Because fear is not respect.

6:40PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

It's pathetic how people think they must be on Facebook. I'm not, and yet I manage to live a fulfilling life.

6:17PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Freddy R. Says, "Turn off the social media and you won't get cyber-bullied. By its' very definition bullying must reach you in order to effect you.

I am truly sorry that society is raising so very many thin skinned people that care what some idiot says about them."

Sorry, but blaming the victim is not going to fix the problem. While I agree that part of dealing with a bully is to ignore them, that does not always stop them. And when bullies are their most effective is when they influence the opinions of others. When it comes to cyber bullying, they do not need to directly address their victims in order to have an effect. They spread vicious rumors about people, and you may never know where it came from, but suddenly a whole group of people think something about you that has nothing to do with reality, but still effects your life, because it effects how you are treated by those who are not necessarily the bully. To say that if they can't talk to you on social media that they can't bully you, just shows you know nothing about cyber bullying.

5:45PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Micha S., I was bullied in school too, quite a bit, K-12, but the last thing I would ever have done is to become what my tormentors were, just because " I had the chance." I have very little respect for the bullied who become bullies. We need to stand against those who prey on others, not join the oppressors, and certainly not accept it as a inevitable reality. Those who accept evil are a part of the problem.

5:41PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

ty

5:37PM PST on Nov 12, 2013

What constitutes as "bullying" these days is so watered down. Physical assaults, yes, but rumors and innuendos are words. If you can't handle a few people saying crap about you- especially online, how the hell are you going to survive in the adult world? Same ol' PC crap like getting a medal or award for "participation". Indeed. And before you start claiming that I have never had to experience bullying, think again. I spent two years in the hellhole of Rhode Island. I had 4 friends the whole time I was there. I was taunted, ridiculed, insulted, and harangued by pretty much everyone in school. In addition I was assaulted- by one person or multiple people. I had snowballs with rocks in them thrown at me so, yes, I know what real bullying is. Nowadays it seems that EVERYONE is a victim of some sort or another.

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