Facebook battles to beat the cyberbullies [ Herald.ie, by Cormac Murphy, 31/7/2013 ]

FACEBOOK is trying to improve its reporting tools to combat cyber-bullying and other unsavoury online activities.

However, the social network giant with 1.1bn users worldwide does not keep data on complaints it receives.

It also said every complaint is assessed by a Facebook employee who then decides whether action is needed.

The briefing at the company’s Hanover Quay premises – its European HQ – took place amid ongoing controversies about users’ privacy and criminal activity online.

It emerged yesterday that bosses at Twitter could be hauled before MPs in Britain over actions to safeguard people from explicit and violent messages after a feminist campaigner and a Labour MP were sent rape threats.

Separately, Facebook has had to deny it allowed the National Security Agency in the US access to its servers.

The briefing heard Facebook received 9,000 valid requests from law enforcement officials in the US in the six months until the end of December 2012.

The reasons ranged from national security to a sheriff trying to locate a missing child.

In total, 19,000 users were affected, but Facebook is “very aggressive in pushing back against law enforcement requests” to protect subscribers’ privacy, according to its global chief privacy officer, Erin Egan.

No data was available on how many requests were made by gardai. It was reiterated that no access to the company’s servers has ever been granted to law enforcement officials.

Facebook has rules for investigating bullying, but distinguishes between offensive comments and direct bullying.

The company said it can’t solve cyberbullying but accepts it has a responsibility “to work towards that”.

“If someone is being bullied and they report it to us, we’re very strict on bullying, we take it down,” Facebook’s policy communications manager Linda Griffin said.

British PM David Cameron said he was worried about children running up large bills on online purchases, as well as the consequences of young people putting too much information on social media sites.

He said he would let Nancy (9), Arthur (7) and Florence (2) sign up to Facebook when they are older, but said he would warn them against damaging their career prospects.

Meanwhile, the company has no plans to cease hosting the controversial ask.fm app, which has been at the centre of a string of bullying cases.

Ask.fm founder Mark Terebin has rejected any link between the website and teenage suicide.

Keep kids safe from cyberbullies [ cnn.com, by William J. Bennett, 17/2/2011]

Cyberbullying is a growing national concern, with roughly 75 percent of teenagers using cell phones, the most common instrument of harassment. The U.S. education secretary has been talking about it, and the Department of Justice held a cyberbullying summit.

But local communities increasingly are addressing the problem. Indeed, three separate pieces of legislation are being introduced in the Arizona legislature to address the growing problem. And Thursday night, a nonprofit I’m involved in, StandAgainstBullying.org, will be hosting an open and free event in Phoenix to address the very serious issue of cyberbullying.

I will be there, along with concerned parents, academics, school administrators and other state officials, including the attorney general, the chief of police, the state superintendent of education and Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu.

Every cable network, every news channel and almost every newspaper has reported on the issue. And just as we were all beginning to wrap our collective minds around the problem, another facet of it cropped up: sextortion, where teens who send graphic images of themselves to friends are being threatened –blackmailed — by third parties, who capture those images to send even more and more images.

Most of these stories involve cell phone use and abuse. And it’s easier and easier to see how such abuse can happen: The average teenager with a cell phone sends more than 3,000 texts a month.

Cyberbullying and sexting from child to child can lead to, and has led to, terrible consequences, even after just one poor choice of cell phone use. A child victim of cyberbullying by his or her cohorts at school or elsewhere can suffer immeasurable damage, from depression and anxiety to poor academic performance. And, in some cases, worse.

A child victim of sexting can have his or her whole life ruined. The threats, the problems, are not so remote as to think “it cannot happen to my child.” More than 30 percent of children who are online have experienced some form of online harassment — and some report even higher percentages.

Do parents have to give up trying to keep their children safe in the digital age? No. Never. Not in any age can a parent give up. It has been argued that the digital age our children live in is the Wild West of the 21st century. But parents can never surrender to such a dystopia — and they do not have to.

It must be said that many children’s online and technological experiences are perfectly fine. The problem is those e-mail and texts that are not perfectly fine, and even the most innocent of children can fall victim to being harassed by them. Thus, parenting has just gotten harder; necessarily so.

But tools are to combat these are available to parents. (I, in full disclosure, am a shareholder and senior adviser to a company, Safe Communications Inc., that produces a set of products for this. There are other products as well.) Such tools can be used to set times when a child can and cannot text and e-mail — say, no texting between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays, none between 6 and 7 p.m. weeknights and never after curfew or “lights out.” And more, such a tool can actually stop cyberbullying and sexting e-mails and texts; it can block them.

This is the kind of tool that can help tame the spheres our children live and communicate in, can keep them safe and can give parents peace of mind as they still see the import of their children having cell phones and as children still desire them.

But more important than any of this, parents and children need to talk more with each other. Our strongest suggestion is that before any cell phone purchase for a child is made, a serious conversation needs to take place between the parent and child.

Parents: Go to the Internet and google the phrases “cyberbullying” and “sexting.” Familiarize yourself with what the dangers can be. And then discuss those dangers with your child. Talk about the rules for using the cell phone. The younger the child, the more important it can be to have rules, such as whom he or she is permitted to text and e-mail.

Discuss the logical consequences of inappropriate use of the cell phone. And look into the kind of Web-based programs we affiliate with, the kind that can prevent noxious and dangerous messages from being received and sent.

Communication, especially digital communication, is no longer what it used to be, and too many parents simply have no idea how much there is and how bad it can be — until it is too late. But we can prevent “too late” from taking place.

The technology is available for all of us (parents, teachers, coaches, administrators and other responsible adults) to do our part to make sure our children’s messaging and communication is safe, healthy and up to the standards we want for them — the standards they deserve for their childhood to remain safe, secure and healthy.

Childine supervisor warns that cyberbullying will increase [ Birmingham Mail, by Diane Parkes, 16/2/2011]

CHILDREN are being targeted ‘around the clock’ by cyberbullies, it has emerged in the aftermath of the death of a 15-year-natasha macbrydeold Midland schoolgirl.

Natasha MacBryde. Picture by Newsteam International
Natasha MacBryde. Picture by Newsteam International
 

CHILDREN are being targeted ‘around the clock’ by cyberbullies, it has emerged in the aftermath of the death of a 15-year-old Midland schoolgirl.

Natasha MacBryde, a year ten pupil at a private school, was killed by a train amid claims that bullies were to blame for her death.

National charity ChildLine spoke out saying cyberbullying is set to increase as young people find it easier to torment their victims by text and mobile phone at all hours with ‘no escape’.

Schoolgirl Natasha, described as a ‘charming, lovely and model pupil’, was struck near Bromsgrove railway station in the early hours of Monday morning. She lived in Warmstry Road, which is just a few steps away from the rail line.

Friends have claimed bullying is responsible for her death in tributes on social networking sites Twitter and Facebook.

Her distraught dad Andrew, aged 47, who is separated from Natasha’s mother Catherine, aged 43, said he wasn’t shocked by the bullying allegations.

He said: ‘I have no idea why Natasha died. But I am not surprised there are messages on Facebook saying she was bullied. I have no idea what happened, that is what the British Transport Police want to find out.”

Natasha was a pupil at Royal Grammar School, Worcester.

ChildLine supervisor John Anderton, who is based in Birmingham, said that cyberbullying, in which children attack others by text, mobile phone, instant messaging or social networks, is on the rise.

The helpline receives more than 20,000 calls from young people about bullying each year.

“With cyberbullying there is no escape,” said Mr Anderton. “In the old days a child would be bullied between 9am-3pm and there could be incidents on the way to and from school. But once they were home there could be a respite from that.

“But with cyberbullying they can be receiving threatening messages when they are at home.”

The charity’s comments are backed by Robert Mullaney whose 15-year-old son Tom was found hanged after allegedly being abused on a social networking site.

“This problem is not going to go away,” said 48-year-old Mr Mullaney who, along with 43-year-old wife Tracy, has campaigned for greater security measures on social networking sites.

Tom was found hanged at the bottom of his family’s home in Bournville last May. His parents believe he snapped after a single incident of cyberbullying.