Cyberbullying a problem that's become more and more widespread, with social network usage continuing to grow.
In part one of a weeklong series, Adam Balkin gives us an overview of what cyberbullying is, and the current problems fighting it.
When you hear the phrase "cyberbullying," there's a good chance there are some online actions you do not think of though that qualify as well. For a true definition, we consulted perhaps one of the world's leading experts on the subject, Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy and security lawyer, one of five members of Facebook's International Advisory Board and founder of StopCyberBullying.org.
"When one young person uses digital technology as a weapon to hurt another so they may use your password to get into your game accounts and steal all of your points. They may post to sites saying you're slutty or stupid or gay whatever it is you're not supposed to be that week. They may pretend to be you and say nasty things to your friends so no one's your friend anymore, they may hack your account, take over everything and publicize it when they can," Aftab said.
So once you've identified cyberbullying can you then rely on the technology community to help you combat it?
Social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram monitor for abuses and have ways to report an attack. But kids can be creative in their ways to circumvent bullying countermeasures.
"You can scrub for keywords, you can look for violations, there's lots of ways you can discourage the use of curse words for example, but the thing about cyberbullying is there usually aren't curse words. It's just people being mean to each other online. The damage is more psychological and that's a lot harder to ferret out when all you've got basically are search engines to work with," said Dan Costa, of PCMag.com
Some independent groups are working on possible solutions, including Aftab, who is helping some teens in Canada release what is essentially an always on, always there cyberbullying red panic button.
The red button is to launch on StopCyberbullying.org on May 1.
"Any site they're on it'll help them report cyberbullying when it happens, it'll give them information on how to deal with it, and connect them to an one-to-one helpline to connect them to other kids," Aftab said.
Tuesday night we'll have the next installment of our cyberbullying series. In part two, Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto will take a look at federal legislation against cyberbullying.