Can Companies #Cyberbully?

This month, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made blocking cyberbullying his top priority for the social media platform.

It’s an understandable stance for the platform to take, with trolling and hate speech acting as barriers to engagement between users and a deterrent for new users.

To combat this, Twitter has plans to upgrade its ‘Mute’ feature, meaning that users can block hurtful phrases, keywords and notifications from being mentioned in hateful conversations.

There are also plans to upgrade the platform’s tools to allow easier reporting of policy violations and content that specifically:

“targets people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.”

The changes come as a result of the spike in usage following the recent US presidential election, with more and more instances of cyberbullying and discrimination occurring during the heated presidential debates (mostly from Trump’s own account).

 

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In all seriousness, cyberbullying is sadly becoming a fact of life, with 62% of all reported cases of bullying happening online.

If then, cyberbullying is a frequent occurrence, what does it look like? And is it just users that cyberbully, or are companies doing it too?

Definition

“To bully online by sending or posting mean, hurtful, or intimidating messages”

If then, this definition takes cyberbullying to be sending messages online to intimidate or hurt other users, then companies can be guilty of this too.

 

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Does this Tweet contain hurtful messages?
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What about this one?
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Or this?

 

Trying to be witty and responsive on Twitter is no excuse for being hurtful. There is a fine line between what you find funny and what could be deemed insensitive – you never know what users are going through in their private lives.

You never know who you’re offending or alienating with your comments, and spreading hurtful messages isn’t going to bring in customers or spread a positive reputation.

As a business, what can you do to help stop cyberbullying?

  • Report any instances of hurtful or intimidating messages you see online
  • Check your own accounts to make sure you’re not being insensitive – get a colleague to check with you
  • Try not to bring personal opinions on race, politics or other heated issues to your commercial social media – it attracts negativity
  • Don’t single out users – if someone has a complaints then deal with it appropriately and take the conversation out of the public sphere.
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