Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Humiliation Game

By David Simms, Senior Contributor

A common tactic used by cyber harassers is to create websites in the name of the person they wish to publicly humiliate. Social media pages have become the most common form of social interaction.  In America and other countries, platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, allow people to establish personal relationships and network in the business world. All of these websites make it extremely easy to create profile accounts that can be published and viewed immediately by a very large audience. There is little to no policing of anyone establishing a new account. Cyber harassers take advantage of this fact by generating profiles of the person they are targeting.  Profiles will typically have photos of the person, sometimes in humiliating poses, along with contrived information that puts the victim in a negative light, all with the intent to humiliate as much as possible. 

It is sometimes difficult for a targeted individual to have these false profiles removed as website hosts are typically overwhelmed with requests in the thousands to have content deleted for whatever reason. In order to remove items, the platform provider must have their own staff research the validity of the claim and make a determination based on company policy together with free speech and defamation laws. This process can potentially take an inordinate amount of time to find resolution and is compounded by instances where profiles are not obvious in their malicious intent. These require much additional research to make a proper determination.  Many requests for removal of content are not valid or are trivial but nonetheless draw company resources in resolving them. Unfortunately this takes away from those cases needing immediate resolution. Instead of dealing with the problem on the back end when it has already occurred, preventing it in the first place would be a much better solution.