How Do I Prevent Cyberbullying on My Platform?

By Yinan Pan 

June 29, 2022

In modern times, cyberbullying is no longer an uncommon phenomenon. It is bullying that takes place through the use of modern technologies, and is intended to constantly frighten, anger, or humiliate those victims who are being targeted. According to the 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 41% of U.S. adults have personally experienced online harassment and about 90% of Americans believe cyberbullying is a problem that deserves attention. With the development of technology and the prevalence of the Internet era, cyberbullying is growing with each passing year and has spread to various online platforms, which demonstrates that all kinds of platforms have the possibility of being assaulted by it. As the trend of cyberbullying continues to rise, what can we do to prevent cyberbullying from happening on online platforms?

In modern times, cyberbullying is no longer an uncommon phenomenon. It is bullying that takes place through the use of modern technologies, and is intended to constantly frighten, anger, or humiliate those victims who are being targeted. According to the 2020 Pew Research Center survey, 41% of U.S. adults have personally experienced online harassment and about 90% of Americans believe cyberbullying is a problem that deserves attention. With the development of technology and the prevalence of the Internet era, cyberbullying is growing with each passing year and has spread to various online platforms, which demonstrates that all kinds of platforms have the possibility of being assaulted by it. As the trend of cyberbullying continues to rise, what can we do to prevent cyberbullying from happening on online platforms?

How and Why Does Cyberbullying Occur?

Cyberbullying usually begins with the gradual increase of users on a platform. A great majority of cyberbullying may start out as a non-malicious joke or a casual comment but makes the receiver feel uncomfortable. After unintentional comments receive dissatisfaction or condemnation, a part of the posters will become displeased, and as a result lead to an argument with the receiver. This can occur as an intentional verbal attack and personal denigration, turning into cyberbullying. Undoubtedly, a portion of the ingredients for the occurrence of this online violence is the malicious intention of the abuser. 

 

An online pilot study indicates that there are numerous factors that contribute to people conducting cyberbullying. Examples from this list include retaliating against someone, believing the victim deserves it, for fun or entertainment, disgracing the target, intended to be mean, to show off to friends, etc. In addition, the anonymity brought by the Internet motivates bullies to commit cyberbullying and causes it to spread, which is another and one of the most important factors leading to the emergence of cyberbullying. For example, some perpetrators post malicious or untrue things on social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, as a way to publicly hurt the person experiencing the cyberbullying while not displaying their real name to prevent being held accountable. In contrast with bullying in reality, the Internet gives bullies more courage to abuse others based on their belief that they will not be caught due to the anonymity, and take out their oppression or anger in the society on the internet.

 

Based on the above factors, cyberbullying can occur on any platform where users can publish their speech, and any user who publishes speech is highly likely to become the next victim of cyberbullying.

 

Why is it Important to Prevent Cyberbullying?

Among the various factors that can cause bullies to commit cyberbullying against others, cyberbullying has the potential to happen to every user. Without the prevention measures or regulation by the platform, cyberbullying will grow unchecked and gradually affect the experience of every user of the platform, even those who have not been subjected to it. In addition, once cyberbullying is triggered, it is difficult to eliminate it completely since the perpetrator is able to bully the victim anytime and anywhere on the Internet, and may search for personal information and other privacy of the victim in some way to carry out more vicious and cruel attacks. An example of stealing information from others is cyber spying, in which user accounts can be hacked, online behavior can be tracked, or malware can be implemented on devices. All of this could have a ripple effect on the operation of the entire platform and system security issues, which exposes the entire company or organization to an incalculable and significant loss of information. At the same time, users affected by the wave of cyberbullying will not only get a very poor experience on the platform, but the credibility of the whole platform to them will also be greatly reduced.

Without the guarantee of security and privacy, consumers are substantially less likely to spend or use the platform as they feel unsafe or their data is being monitored. According to data from Callsign, 54% of consumers report they don’t trust social media companies to keep their personal information secure. Thus, the emergence of cyberbullying has greatly led to a decrease of users and represents the decline of the platform’s reputation. In today’s highly competitive online marketplace, it is essential and rare to maintain user loyalty and credibility. Protecting users from harassment and harm caused by cyberbullying should be the most basic responsibility and commitment to users, and it can also reflect the advantages compared with other competitive platforms. Even though the prevention of cyberbullying in advance cannot completely destroy the possibility of its occurrence, it can reduce to some extent the damage and loss caused by it to the platform. Therefore, what can we do to prevent cyberbullying? 

Strategies to prevent cyberbullying

Enhance privacy settings

The improvement of the privacy settings of the platform system can protect and prevent the leakage of users’ personal data. Generally, the leakage of victims’ personal information accompanies the development of cyberbullying. As cyberbullying begins, the bullies may try to find out the personal identity data of the target to carry out more serious attacks against them, including name, gender, residence, etc. This information is often the key to accessing online personal accounts. More serious phenomena include identity theft, where perpetrators go on to harass or even defraud other users on the platform under the target’s name after stealing their identity. Gradually, the data can also be used to harass people on other platforms. It not only leads to more psychological damage to the victim but also disrupts the order of the platform. 

Powerful privacy settings can protect users’ personal information from prying eyes and misuse in the first place, and can prevent the onset and deterioration of cyberbullying to a certain extent. It includes checking and securing the user’s privacy lock, maintaining the privacy system multiple times, managing account system permissions, alerting about publicly available personal information, etc.

Blocking harassment

 A major key to preventing cyberbullying is blocking harassment since cyberbullying can also arise from the bully actively harassing others. This can involve sending spam to random users, which includes outbound links, generic or unrelated discussions, or any correspondence that poses a threat. These spam messages or comments not only damage the reputation of the page and the platform but also endanger the security of the user. 

Thus, the problem could be solved by moderating and filtering comments, setting the permissions for direct messages, using WordPress plugins, or downloading anti-malware and privacy protection programs, such as humanID, that are dedicated to increasing network security for its users and blocking bots, spam and other harassment.

Safeguard account security

Since cyberbullying can gradually endanger victims’ personal privacy and accounts, it is important to safeguard users’ accounts. To achieve this, humanID is a suitable and trustworthy solution. It is a one-click, anonymous login project that aims to achieve a safer online environment. The product allows users to remain anonymous and maintain their privacy, though still remain accountable,when logging into third-party applications with the software implemented. humanID protects user data and prevents the risk of data leakage. 

 

The login process is conducted by users’ phone numbers, which humanID deletes immediately after verification to restrain hackers from accessing and attacking platform users. Each user receives an irreversible hash specific to the platform they are registered with after SMS verification, so it is not traceable to the phone number provided by them. In this way, the private information and accounts of individuals are securely protected and the danger of their identity being traced or information being stolen is reduced. The bully will not be able to further harass or harm the victim through stolen personal information, which prevents a significant increase in cyberbullying and stops it from damaging users and the platform.

 

As perpetrators can attack others for a variety of factors, it is possible to see that cyberbullying has the probability to happen to everyone. From the aspect of the huge losses caused by cyberbullying to users and platforms, this serious problem needs attention and the significance of taking precautions in advance should not be underestimated. When partnering with humanID, the single sign-on (SSO) solution prevents users from being harassed by bullies and blocks platforms from malicious spam, as well as protecting users’ personal data and account security to stop cyberbullying.

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