Thursday, August 21, 2014

An internet of enablers.

By Abigail Clarke: Contributing Content Blogger

When people are stalked or harassed on the internet, something should be done about it immediately. I’ve grown rather weary of all the talk about what police cannot do or what social medias cannot do. There is something police can do. They can investigate these rampant crimes. Hate speech, harassment, bullying, and stalking are crimes. It is my opinion, and not lacking of common sense, that if the police don’t have the resources to deal with these, they certainly need to be given them. Victims of these crimes are not barmy and should never be made to feel they are.  I realised many years to the prior you must speak up to be heard, especially when what is being spoken is less than popular.  I don’t want to live in a society that just throws up its hands when people are routinely lashed on the internet only to say “it’s not so bad. Just live with it.”

There is also something social media companies can do. They can make it known that abuse is not acceptable in any capacity. They can work to reshape the expression, environment, and context of their sites so that hate crime cannot thrive. They can make reporting a little easier as well and support a trained staff to deal with these reports. They can make a genuine effort to listen to their users and take action on what they are saying instead of burying away complaints. These are all proactive things that could happen and would make a difference however even these don’t get to the root of the problem. They are band-aids treating symptoms and not the cause. Social media doesn’t cause cyber harassment and the police cannot cure it. What really needs to happen is for society to take a genuine look at itself.  To change the status quo of the internet requires consistent and long-term education beginning at a young age.  Society must be reconditioned to be able to function properly, as a whole, on the internet.

At present there is no doubt the internet is enabling abusive behaviours, allowing people to vent and throw their hate at others, but by the same token it also provides a platform for positive voices to be heard and for knowledge to be shared and advanced.

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