Addressing the Online Bullies: Can Platform Police Themselves?
Sat, 04 Apr 2020 || By Theodore Great

Social media as a platform that connects millions of people worldwide has undoubtedly become a double-edged sword. On the one side, it enables the distribution of positive messages but also its counterparts the negative ones from hate comments, revenge porn, and doxing or publishing other people's personal data. These harmful contents are classified as examples of cyberbullying which research has shown to cause health problems such as depression, anxiety, loneliness, and other symptoms. Meanwhile, the cyberbullies tend to increase their substance use and continue to show offensive behavior[1]. The instances of cyberbullying also happened to both adolescents and adults. In Indonesia, 49% of internet users have experienced cyberbullying[2]. In tackling the issues, online social media platforms have started to act in policing themselves from cyberbullies. This article will review whether all of these features are enough to combat the online bullies.

Some measures created by Facebook and Twitter are comments moderation, blocking negative comments, reporting with anonymity, and Facebook post review[3]. Instagram with the incorporation of artificial intelligence also released new features such as comment warning which will remind users to rethink if the content they post negative content statements. Secondly, Instagram’s restrict feature enables victims to restrict their bully comment to appear on their post or direct messages but it will still appear in their bully account. In other words, this is a clandestine form of block[4].

Those features are already good steps towards tackling cyberbullying, but they are not yet enough. To begin with, the moderators in social media are unknown. Their profile is confidential due to concerns of data privacy and most of the employers are outsourced and not Facebook employees[5]. Therefore, their backgrounds are not known and bias could exist as their specific standards in moderation are open to interpretation[6]. Not to mention, the traumas faced by these people after seeing the negative contents[7]. Moreover, there are thousands of posts being created every day but only 1,000 moderators are working. Also, Facebook is used across the globe with various languages. With this gap, it is evident that social media platforms can not completely police themselves.

Therefore, actions must be taken to solve this issue. Firstly, platforms must be supported by the government themselves and civil society. For the government, they need to review the existing regulation, for instance, the Electronic Information and Transactions Law only includes the online insult as part of violence online that can be sued in courts but not yet includes other types of cyberbullying[8]. Moreover, the government should also emphasize that cyberbullying is also classified as a form of harassment. It does not mean as it is online, it is not threatening and cause severe damage to the victims. Meanwhile, civil society could volunteer to moderate the comments proactively. Therefore, the platforms should find ways to accommodate these initiatives. In addition, civil society plays a vital role in increasing the awareness of cyberbullying and its consequences to the citizen. Some NGOs like Save the Children have done various campaigns about the issue and provide readily accessible resources[9]. Schools and government should also create more initiatives to educate people about cyberbullying. As online or offline, bullying shares the same nature. All in all, every part of stakeholders in society needs to ensure a safe environment and combat bullying together. 

 

Author: Theodore Great
Editor: Amelinda Pandu Kusumaningtyas

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[1] Nixon, C., 2014. Current perspectives: the impact of cyberbullying on adolescent health. Adolescent Health, Medicine and Therapeutics. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[2] Kompas, 2019. 49 Persen Netizen di Indonesia Pernah Mengalami ‘Bullying’ di Medsos. [online] KOMPAS.com. Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[3] Kompas, 2018. 4 Cara Baru Facebook Tangkal ‘Cyberbullying’ Halaman all - Kompas.com. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[4] Steinmetz, K., 2019. Inside Instagram’s Ambitious Plan to Fight Bullying | Time. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[5]Newton, C., 2019. The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. [online] The Verge. Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[6] Facebook, 2020. Community Standards. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[7] Newton, C., 2019. The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. [online] The Verge. Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].

[8] Undang-Undang Republik Indonesia Nomor 19 Tahun 2016 tentang Informasi dan Transaksi Elektronik.[online] Available at: .

[9] Save the Children, 2020. Bullying. [online] Resource Centre. Available at: [Accessed 11 Feb. 2020].