“Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke.”
– Benjamin Disraeli
Cyberbullying has become a significant issue in today’s digital age, and social media platforms have become the primary avenue for this behaviour. It refers to using technology, such as social media, to harass, intimidate, or humiliate others. Cyberbullying has affected people in devastating, leading to mental health issues, low self-esteem, and even suicide. This blog will explore the legal remedies and responsibilities associated with cyberbullying and social media.
LEGAL REMEDIES FOR CYBERBULLYING
There are several legal remedies available for victims of cyberbullying. The first step for victims is to document the bullying behaviour. This documentation can include screenshots of offensive posts, messages, or comments. Victims should also note the time and date of each incident and any witnesses who may have seen the behaviour.
The most common legal remedy for cyberbullying is a restraining or protective order. These orders prohibit the perpetrator from contacting the victim or coming within a certain distance of them. In severe cases, criminal charges may be filed against the perpetrator for harassment or stalking.
Victims of cyberbullying may also have the option to pursue civil litigation against the perpetrator. This can include a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, or privacy invasion. If cyberbullying involves a minor, parents/guardians may be held responsible for their child’s actions.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS
Social media platforms have a responsibility to protect their users from cyberbullying. This includes implementing policies and procedures to prevent and address cyberbullying behaviour. Social media platforms should also have reporting mechanisms for users to report cyberbullying incidents.
In addition to policies and procedures, social media platforms should educate their users on cyberbullying and its effects. This can include providing resources and support for victims, as well as educating users on the legal consequences of cyberbullying behaviour.
Social media platforms can also be held liable for cyberbullying behaviour that occurs on their platform. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects social media platforms from liability for user-generated content. However, this immunity does not apply if the platform is found to be an active participant in cyberbullying behaviour.
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, or social status. However, some people are more vulnerable to cyberbullying than others. In this blog, we will enlighten some of the potential/common victims of cyberbullying.
Children and Teens: are particularly vulnerable to cyberbullying. According to the Cyberbullying Research Center research, nearly 34% of students in the United States have experienced cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can devastate children and teens, including low self-esteem, depression, and suicide.
Women and Girls: are also frequent targets of cyberbullying. This can include sexual harassment, revenge porn, and misogynistic attacks. According to a report by Amnesty International, members of the LGBTQ+ community are particularly vulnerable to online abuse.
Minorities: including people of colour and members of the LGBTQ+ community are often targeted with hate speech and discriminatory comments. This may lead to the eagerness of isolation, low self-esteem, and physical and emotional harm.
Celebrities: are often targets of cyberbullying due to their public status. Cyberbullying can include everything from negative comments on social media to hacking and releasing private information. Celebrities may also be targeted with death threats or other forms of harassment.
Disabled Individuals: may be targeted with cyberbullying due to physical or mental disabilities. This can include mocking and derogatory comments, as well as the sharing of private information or images.
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, but certain groups are more vulnerable to this behaviour. Children and teens, women and girls, minorities, celebrities, and disabled individuals are all frequent targets of cyberbullying. It is vital for us to be aware of these vulnerabilities and to take steps to create a digital environment which is safe and supportive for everyone.
Cyberbullying is a prominent issue that can have devastating consequences. Victims of cyberbullying have legal remedies available, including restraining orders, civil litigation, and criminal charges. Social media platforms are responsible for protecting their users from cyberbullying behaviour and can be held liable for their role in cyberbullying incidents. All of us need to take responsibility for our actions online.
Author’s Name: Aditya Sharan (Symbiosis Law School, Noida)