We’ve seen it before. What looks like heckling in the comments section of a blog and snarky exchanges on Twitter can actually be signs of a deeper, more obnoxious reality – bullying and harassment.
Spawn by a series of teen suicides, cyberbullying has pushed its way into the national spotlight and conversation. The focus is generally on its effects on the youth, however this month’s Social Media Breakfast focused on examples of adults attacked online and asked us to take a look at what we can do to start a movement of “Online Civility.”
Guest speaker, Andrea Weckerle, founder and president of CiviliNation shared with the group how she found herself the target of online attacks and how those attacks effected her.
Gina Carroll, guest speaker and featured teen parenting blogger for Chron.com and Examiner.com, spoke on a common form of attacks seen online, mainly in the comments section of blogs and articles. She highlighted how anonymity is empowering for bullies and often the chosen persona for launching attacks.
Social Media Breakfast organizer Kami Huysen (@kamichat) also shared her own stories of being the target of online harassment, before grouping bullying into four categories:
- Stakeholder Dissatisfaction – customer/client takes to the web against a company
- Mob Mentality/ group-think – razzing someone because everyone else did it
- Determined Detractor – trolling the web picking fights
- Disturbing Stalker – …in real life and online…creepy and potentially harmful
With the categories in mind, she asked the group to offer suggestions for dealing with bullies on the web as a starting point for establishing general guidelines for civil behavior online.
She said, “We can’t legislate this, so we have to have a movement.”
Some of the suggestions include posting and enforcing blog policies, taking online threats seriously, and eliminating anonymity on blog comments through verification systems. To see more suggestions, visit the FB page for the event, and also add your suggestions.
To learn more about steps community members are taking to encourage online civility, check out CiviliNation’s “Taking A Stand” video project.