By Tuesday Bowen
Cyberbullying has become an epidemic on social media platforms and the internet in general and is steadily becoming a worldwide issue. Online harassment is widespread and non-stop. Nowadays, cyberbullying is a form of entertainment on the internet, but in reality it’s harassment. Because social media is an avenue of free speech, many erroneously confuse the restricting of harassment with the restricting of free speech. Free speech does not give one the license to harass others.
The more we use social media the worse it continues to get. Twitter has taken a strict precaution to stop the spread of hate and abuse. The recently updated rules state, “You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.”
The new terms and conditions involving harassment also bring into question what is considered free speech. If one isn’t free to criticize, then is one free to speak their mind and opinion? Many see free speech and open discussion as compromised when it comes to the newly added regulations, though they may have good intentions.
These rules, which appear to be straightforward, are put into serious question due to cyberbullying. The line between abuse, criticism, and free speech becomes blurred. Despite the clear rules, Twitter users do not take these rules seriously because cyberbullying has become a source of entertainment in America’s drama loving and media-washed society. These rules are necessary, however, to protect people from harassment rather than limiting free speech.
The Kardashians, in particular, have abused Twitter regulations. Just recently, Khloe Kardashian joined drama between celebrities Kim Kardashian and Chloe Moretz by posting an indecent photo of that appeared to be about Moretz. However, the picture was actually of another anonymous young girl. Although this error was pointed out to Khloe Kardashian, she never took it down and instead continued to use the photo and comments to promote herself. Despite the intentional “joke,” which publically hurt a fellow celebrity, Twitter users saw it as a source of entertainment and comedy.
This is the attitude that makes cyberbullying so harmful because it is not taken seriously by most people except the victims.
Cyberbullying, especially between celebrites, is a major source of news and entertainment in this society, which says a lot about our young generation and the world we live in. Bullying and making fun of others is considered funny and acceptable if the bully is famous or pretty.
YouTube is another platform in which cyberbullying provides supposed entertainment and shows how obscure the line is between criticism and abuse.
Like Twitter, they have also recently updated the terms and services, in attempts to combat cyberbullies and stop harassment. After this update, several channels were immediately reported and ultimately removed from Youtube.
The newly added regulations added that any “negative comments,” videos, and channels considered to be harassment, will be censored, and permanently banned from YouTube.
These rules are extremely vague which leads many YouTubers feeling confused and afraid that their channel may be threatened or removed.
As with Twitter, many YouTubers have gotten into personal confrontation with one another. For example, a drama news reporter, Keemstar, clearly showed how cyberbullying is a source of entertainment for many YouTubers. Despite his recent cases of online harassment, his subscriber count continues to rise because viewers feed on the drama he produces. His channel gives off the impression that cyberbullying is acceptable, though it should clearly not be.
Although the differences between criticism and personal opinions are vague when it comes to harassment and bullying, cyberbullying always has victims. Cyberbullying should never be a source of entertainment. Refraining from harassing and abusing someone is not restricting free speech, just an example of exercising humanity and common sense.