Teenagers and Cyberbulling

I have recently finished my new short film – A Story of One Parisian Girl. This story is about teenage girl Sophie who decided to commit suicide. Throughout a movie Sophie is reflecting on her life and she tells us a story why she decided to take her own life. The film’s mission is to highlight the problems that teens face in the modern world. Nowadays teenagers have to deal with problems such as cyberbullying, internet abuse, teen violence and other issues during the most vulnerable growth stages of their lives; between 12 and 18-years-old. During this time, teens are exposed to some overwhelming struggles like hormonal changes, puberty, pressure from society and family. Social media bullying is one of the key problems among teenagers that could lead to depression, low self esteem and suicide.

Recent article in the Guardian confirms my fears. According to recent report from NSPCC, ChildLine conducted 35,000 counselling sessions for low self-esteem between April 2014 and March 2015. The report blames “a constant onslaught from cyber-bullying, social media and the desire to copy celebrities,” as key reasons.

Julia Fossi, senior analyst for online safety at NSPCC says that while most platforms are taking steps to improve safety, social networks must be held more accountable for the content they host. She says that social sites, which often use tracking technology for adverts and marketing could use a similar technology “to identify potential bullying issues and help determine what an effective intervention would look like.”

With reports of cyberbullying on the rise and girls more likely to be affected, Will Gardner, CEO, Childnet International says that the area is “challenging” but agrees that sites must continue innovating with technology to tackle the issue.

Facebook

Facebook’s rules states under-13s can’t sign up, but research from EU Kids Online and the LSE found half of 11 to 12-year-olds are on Facebook. .

Announcing the recent formation of the Online Civil Courage Initiative – a partnership between Facebook and NGOs to fund counter speech campaigns against terrorism and bullying – Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that, “hate speech has no place in our society — not even on the internet”. Facebook polices the content on its own site on a report by report basis, relying on users to report posts to its “around the clock” global support teams. While Facebook claims it has improved its reporting transparency with a user dashboard that lets users know how their complaint is being dealt with, there is no available open data on how many reports are resolved satisfactorily and how many abusive users and pages are removed. The network does have a family safety centre with information aimed at teens and parents, and encourages users to block or unfriend anyone who is abusive.

Twitter

In a leaked memo in February last year, former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo claimedthat Twitter “sucks at dealing with abuse and trolls”. Since then, the company says it has streamlined the process of reporting harassment and has made improvements around reporting other content issues including impersonation and the sharing of private and confidential information.  Crucially the site has updated its enforcement procedures too, claiming to use both an automated and human response to conduct investigations and follow appropriate actions swiftly. The site says it will take action against abusers depending on severity, ranging from requiring specific tweets to be deleted to permanently suspending accounts. LikeFacebook, there is no public data showing the effectiveness of its policies and reporting. Last year Twitter launched a safety centre where users can learn about staying safe online, with sections created especially for teens, parents and educators. It also recently announced a partnership with mental health charity Cycle Against Suicide to promote online safety.