Approximately 34% of students in the US report experiencing cyberbullying during their lifetime. Even more concerning? 62% of students polled in a recent study by techjury said that they wouldn’t tell their parents if they were being bullied online. Today, anonymous apps continue to be a breeding ground for cyberbullying, where bullies can reach their victims 24/7. Here are the top apps to be aware of in 2019.
New on the list this year is YOLO, which spent five straight weeks on the Top 10 list since it was released on May 2nd. YOLO is a question-and-answer app that links with Snapchat to share comments and questions with followers. The app encourages anonymously submitting “honest messages,” (much like Sarahah, which was actually dropped by both the Apple and Google app stores last year) and as with most anonymous apps, has quickly become a breeding ground for name-calling, rumor-spreading and hate speech.
Instagram remains one of the top apps troubled by cyberbullying. The image-based
social media app inadvertently gives bullies an easy way to anonymously criticize users in comments or direct messages (DMs). Ditch the Label reported more than one in five 12-to-20-year-olds experience bullying specifically on Instagram. Even celebrities are not immune. Kelly Marie Tran, star of the latest Star Wars movie, recently shut down her Instagram after continuous racist and sexist abuse.
Following closely behind Instagram is Facebook, whose platform keeps expanding and, unfortunately, so do new methods of cyberbullying on the app. Here is Compareitech’s comprehensive list of all the different ways cyberbullies can target their victims using Facebook’s many features:
- Private messages involving derogatory comments or threats
- Public comments within profiles, pages, or posts
- Sharing sensitive or unflattering images or videos of the victim
- Posting explicit or threatening images or videos to the victim’s profile or page
- Pages or groups set up for the purpose of tormenting a victim or victims
- Exclusion from private pages or groups causing the victim to feel left out
Snapchat’s temporary photo and video sharing continues to battle cyberbullying. In addition to malicious content, inappropriate content is still posted, saved, and shared privately among friends. Snapchat has since upped its efforts to try to stop users from abusing the app. Read more about what features are available to help pinpoint digital bullying at the source on webwise.
WhatsApp allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images or documents. For teens without a cellphone, WhatsApp is considered a “safer” way for them to chat directly with their friends. However, a story from Honduras shows how a game of Truth or Dare quickly became an opportunity for bullying and alienation in a group chat, and exploitation of an otherwise innocent game.
Youtube, the social media video site, has been facing a lot of backlash over what some call a “selectively enforced harassment policy.” Where many are calling hypocrisy, a lot of individual users on Youtube are taking matters into their own hands with the #CreateNoHate campaign (which has spread across all social media campaigns) and many anti-cyberbullying videos speaking out against cyberbullying and hateful content. Watch the powerful video that started the #CreateNoHate campaign.
Twitter, the microblogging and social networking service, continues to fight cyberbullies who abuse the platform with fake accounts. While it continues to be an issue, Twitter has spent the last two years implementing ways for users to report and take action against threats, hate speech, impersonation, and harassment. Solutions include transparent reporting, filtering reported accounts from the newsfeed, and even time-outs for over-reported accounts.
Ask.fm is a global social networking site where users send each other questions and post answers anonymously. Interestingly, Education Week recently published an article regarding a teen who actually used the platform to engage in digital self-harm, posting derogatory comments about herself. According to the article, a surprising 6% of students admit to cyberbullying themselves, though this behavior is not specific to Ask.fm.
For more information on cyberbullying and how to tackle it, check out the following links:
7 Tips on Keeping Your Child Safe Online
11 Facts About Cyberbullying
51 Critical Cyber Bullying Statistics in 2019
If you feel you are being bullied online, call the cyberbullying hotline number at 1-800-273-8255 for cyberbullying help.