Yesterday kicked off Anti-bullying Week and it goes from November 16-20 2009. One thing that is really being focused upon is the problem of cyber-bullying. As we all know, this is a problem that is out of control and at some point, someone needs to put a stop to it. The problem is a huge one on social sites like My Space, Facebook, Twitter, Bebo and others where kids can go and interact with their friends as well as adults. . Facebook has decided to take some preventative measures and has launched some safety tips in support of Anti-bullying Week.
I have been a strong advocate of Facebook for a long time. It is designed to keep its members safe for starters. The profiles are set up where one must add a person to their friends list in order for their full profile to be seen by the other user. Users can also set their profile to private which allows only those on their friends list to know that they are members of the site. It is a great place to post photos and organize them so others can view and comment on them. Members on there range from 14-104 and many parents have their children added to their list of friends. That can make it hard for a teen to cyber-bully or add anyone that is questionable to their list of friends. Not to mention it is a great place to network with other professionals and invites and groups can be created to help in the networking process. It has become a site that is family friendly and is why many flock there to communicate.
Facebook has left some helpful comments that I back up completely. I wanted to list and expand on them from what has already been listed.
1. Only accept friends you know: Many times, people who do business on Facebook will add strangers to their lists because they are interested in networking. If this is the case, do not put up personal photos or give a lot of personal information. Also, if one is underage, they do not need to be adding adults that they do not know. As for adults, they do not need to be adding anyone under 18 years of age. Again, some of these teens have parents on their lists and you do not want to be accused of subjecting something that could be considered inappropriate to their children who are underage. Teens please add other teens you already know and if you do add adults, make sure you know them. Adults, please stick to other adults on the site. Unless you know the teen, you really do not need to be interacting with them.
2. Stop abusive behavior: Please, if someone is abusing you on the site, take that person and block them. The block feature is excellent as once you block a person, it is as if they do not exist at all. They cannot see you, what you are doing, who is on your friend list or anything else. People come to the site for various reasons and I am sure nobody wishes to come and engage in any flame wars or useless drama. Block the bully!
3. Report trouble directly to Facebook: Again, Facebook is taking this problem very seriously and if you are encountering a bully on the site, let Facebook know. Show them what has been sent to you and posted on your profile. You can cut and paste it and save it on your computer. They have people who work to investigate and stop this behavior. Get others to report on your behalf as well.
4. Keep your information private: Again, if you do not want anyone to know something about you, the last place it belongs is on Facebook or any other place online. Use good and safe judgment here. Share limited information about yourself. Also, keep your status updates reasonable. What I mean is that not everyone is interested in what you ate for lunch, if you went to the store or how many times you went to the bathroom. Do not post anything that could tip off where you are located. Facebook has a settings area where you can set you level of privacy on the site.
5. Do not react to bullies: block, report or delete them. Again, do not engage with them in petty arguments. Once you flame right back at them you are no longer in a situation where you are being abused. It has then become a full blown flame war between two people. Bullies want you to react and waste your time indulging them with drama. They live for this behavior. If someone is posting gossip or spreading rumors then please save the information they have posted and get others to help you collect it. Send it to Facebook when you report them. Block and delete them from your list. Facebook calls the shots on the site and therefore, its better that you allow them to take control of the situation. Building alliances, flaming each other back and forth is no longer a bullying scenario but again, it’s a full blown conflict between two parties. Let them create the trouble alone and that way, they become responsible for their actions. Plus, it becomes easier for Facebook to see who they real bully is.
Again, it is great to see Anti-bullying Week in full force. Social sites are full of this behavior and it is refreshing to see one that takes this problem seriously. Again, I back Facebook up 100% and the fact that they take this cyber-bullying seriously gives me greater confidence in them. At the end of the day, people just want to go to Facebook and do what they need to do without any hassles. We all deserve a safe online experience.