Keyboard warriors: safe online experiences among the dangers of cyberbullying

What's the connection between cyberbullying and UNGUESS? Well, our goal is to create fluid, positive, safe and accessible experiences for all the users.

What's the connection between cyberbullying and UNGUESS? Well, our goal is to create fluid, positive, safe and accessible experiences for all the users.

Luca Russo, a forensic analyst, has declared that "If bullying and cyberbullying already were a highly topical issue, after the pandemic the risk is further increased".

Among the sustainable development goals, six have inspired this article: good health and well-being (3), quality education (4), gender equality (5), decent work and economic growth (8), reduced inequalities (10, peace, justice and strong institutions (16).

Alessandro Bottalico will tell us all about it.

UNGUESS newsroom

sustainable development goals

To be honest, I'm not sure if the term bullying was even used, but before the 90s, there were pranks and teasing in the courtyards, outside and inside the schools, at the bar, downtown. The squabbles were sometimes about football, politics, for love, or unwelcome nicknames.

And then, in the years 199X, 200X, and 20XX, here come the social media! The bars and clubs almost disappeared because now people don’t need to go out to express themselves; they can just leave a comment anytime they want. Discussions become interminable, acrimony included, because, on social media, people argue, and then they no longer feel the need to talk to other people, neither in digital nor in-person. I wish it were all here, but...


Cyberbullying & Stalking

From MySpace to Facebook, Twitter, and all the others, maybe mass communication tools were exactly what we were expecting.

Well, if democracy and the freedom of speech may affect and even offend someone, a post and its comments might go far beyond the use of a simple megaphone in the middle of a crowd. A post may become viral, reaching strangers and dragging the poor victim - sometimes even unaware of the situation - into a vicious cycle of shame and regret.

The power of that “tornado” has taken more than one life. I do not want to list them, as I would also have to list the victims of the “pre-social networks era” when there were people suffering and tormentors.

Social media has turned into a tool where not only news and information are shared but also where hate is conveyed.

Online hate is getting out of hand. According to an ISTAT (The Italian National Institute of Statistics) analysis, only a few years ago, at least one out of two teenagers was a bully-victim in just one year, 1 out of 5 at least once a month, and 1 out of 10 at least once a week. Then, if we only consider hate towards the girls, the numbers soar frighteningly.

With the new technologies, back in 2011, 90% of the teens already had a smartphone and 75% of them were surfing the Internet on a daily basis. The situation has allowed the bullying phenomenon to land even online, giving birth to cyberbullying.


The Pandemic and Online Education

With the SARS-COVID19 emergency, the statistics on teenagers highlight a worrying phenomenon. As SKYTG24 mentioned:

  • 1 out of 8 teens declare to have been mocked during online classes
  • 67% of the teens isolate themselves to avoid being 'attacked'

And, as the news mention, how many of them will perform (or already did it) desperate acts in the attempt to escape bullying?


Chi Odia Paga ("Who hates has to pay back"

Chi Odia Paga, founded by Francesco Inguscio, was born with the aim of fighting all those kinds of hate that from real life have passed onto the web and especially on social media.

Behaviors such as stalking, revenge porn, defamation, hate speech, and cyberbullying are just some types of hatred that today are punished by the law. Every citizen has the right to be protected from such behaviors as well as to defend their reputation and digital identity. The need has arisen to fill the gap between the virtual and the digital, says Cristina Moscatelli. The goal is to help people approach legal defense by making them aware of their rights and allowing them, for the first time, to meet the world of the law through technology.


Let's Talk About It

All these behaviors are still out there because victims do not talk about them. Talking about these behaviors allows weakening the phenomenon, punishing who is guilty and as well as compensating the victims. Companies must encourage these kinds of social initiatives and involve their communities.

In cases of cyberbullying, the teenagers are not the only ones who need to be protected. We cannot forget about family, the bully's family and the bully too.


A Safer Web?

As browsing is now part of our daily life, we need to ensure a safer online experience for the users. That's why many institutions and companies are starting to take more care of the protection of cyberbullying victims.

In addition to the previous examples, it is worth remembering the fact that with Law 71/2017, the Italian Privacy Authority guarantees the right to delete offensive content from the web.

It means that if you are working on a platform that has a community with messages, message boards, or a messaging app, the platform must include a report form, where users can ask (with or without reasons) the removal of their sensitive contents. Contents don’t need to be sensitive to you to allow them to have their data removed.

If you do not act, GDPR will! The reports will be analyzed and... well, we know how the Authority works... you might incur penalties!


Beyond Technology

The obligations or tools available are not just online. Other companies offer protective solutions; among them there are the insurance companies. Insurance offer, for a small fee, coverage on the issues that might happen on the web, from identity theft, illicit use of cards but also offenses.

Genertel was one of the first companies, but a stunning revolution was made by Neosurance, from the AXA Group, which brought the solution directly into school diaries and consequently into the hands of the teens and their families. The experience thus becomes very smooth with direct access to the defenders right there, where the bullies believe to impact.

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