Tackling the humiliation culture: keeping your online community safe

We’ve all seen those unnecessarily mean comments and personal attacks, in response to articles, videos, and social media posts. The faceless “trolls” behind them seem to get a kick out of humiliating people; just for voicing opinions or sharing content online.

Though it’s clearly unpleasant, such behavior is often ignored or dismissed as an inevitable part of our online experience. But for many people abuse like this can have very real consequences; when trolling turns into full-fledged cyberbullying.

A Hidden epidemic

Often hidden from view on social media platforms, forums, or messaging apps, cyberbullying can be hard to spot. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. According to anti-bullying organization, Bullying Statistics, more than 50% of adolescents have experienced cyberbullying in some form or other – and up to a quarter have been repeatedly bullied online.

And it’s just as damaging as school- or workplace harassment, hurting the victims emotionally and often leaving them too afraid to socialize or go to school. In more extreme cases it escalates into physical abuse and has sadly led to a number of suicides.

As online marketplaces and classifieds sites increasingly chase community building, do they also have a responsibility for user actions on their platforms? How can they address the important issue of cyberbullying?

Germany sets an example

Germany certainly thinks businesses have a job to do. The country’s new “Network Enforcement Law”, which came into effect in October last year, sets a very strict precedent when it comes to dealing with offensive material on social networks.

The new act levies fines of up to €50 million if a social media platform – with more than 2 million users – fails to remove posts that break German law within a certain (very short) timeframe.

This law has already drawn international attention. And, as broader awareness of cyberbullying increases, governments around the world are likely to start following suit; putting regulations in place to ensure that businesses do everything they can to protect their users.

However, many countries are struggling to enforce action as current laws don’t categorize certain ‘bullying’ behavior as necessarily negative. For example, in Sweden, publishing a naked or sexual image is not seen as ‘defamation’ as being sexually active is normal adult behavior. A 2016 article in The Guardian, illustrates just how varied actions against online harassment can be.

From a business perspective, the time to start tackling the issue of cyberbullying is now. As companies everywhere begin to take action, the cost of not having an effective online bullying strategy in place will be high – and not just financially, but also in terms of brand reputation and user churn. In fact, recent statistics show that 30% of users that witnessed cyberbullying on a site stopped using the service afterwards.

As the digital society continues to mature we are also likely to see increasing legislation as governments start holding companies responsible for what happens on their platforms.

Taking steps to keep your users safe online

The growing problem of cyberbullying has been a difficult one to face for many companies. Reviewing billions of comments, messages and posts is an impossible task for a human team to do alone. However, there are a  number of ways to handle cyberbullying and neutralize it on your website.

This is Besedo

Global, full-service leader in content moderation

We provide automated and manual moderation for online marketplaces, online dating, sharing economy, gaming, communities and social media.

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