If you see cyberbullying, consider reaching out to targets to show support

The start of this week, in my life, has been dominated by cyberbullying.

The details, for those interested, are above. In the interest of not fanning the flames of troll-hatred, I’ll leave off repeating them here.

While the experience has been jarring emotionally, I’ll come through. I’ve experienced cyberbullying before and am lucky enough to have, in my contact directory, an excellent therapist (if you’re in Jerusalem and need an English-speaking one, feel free to drop me a private message). If I need help, right now, I know the right places to turn.

But it won’t be possible to come through this experience without emerging as an advocate for (by which of course I mean against) cyberbullying.

Anonymity-centric social networks such as Reddit are getting away with murder — quite tragically I mean that literally.

I believe that Reddit, in particular, is being grossly derelict in its responsibility to protect targets of cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment.

In the past 24 hours alone, I have had two threads full of harassment about me and been called a variety of slurs ranging from big-nosed to “Sperg” (Asperger’s) to “f***king j***ass”. (Printing the full selection would require another post and I have no intention of spurring on more bullies)

While anonymous cyberbullying has shown me just how deranged and nasty those lurking in the dark corners of the internet can be, it has also, simultaneously, shown me that the silent majority is often actually the kinder internet user.

I’ve received several communications like the following by email (my Reddit DMs are wisely turned off). I wanted to share this one to provide a template for others thinking about taking a few minutes out of their day to write in to cyberbullying targets.

Each one has had a powerful uplifting effect that has done its own part to negate the abuse I have received over the same channel.

If you witness somebody receiving cyberabuse — whether on Reddit or any other platform — consider reading out to them to show your support.

If appropriate, consider directing them towards resources. Because not everybody is fortunate enough to have a great therapist on hand to help tackle the feelings of self-resentment that a slew of hatred can cause.

As I posted yesterday, in spite of this experience, I still believe that anonymity has its place on the internet.

But equally I believe that it can be a powerful force for harm — and sometimes even a devastating one.

Yesterday, I suggested a few practical ways in which the social networks of tomorrow can find a happy medium that would allow “white hat” anonymity use-cases while more effectively stamping out abuse.

Because wherever anonymity is facilitated, trolls will congregate. And without proactive and rigorous systems to hold online abusers to account, they will continue to be able to torment their victims on the internet.

If you’re reading this, please also consider signing the petition below.

One of the abusive threads I received this week was posted on this subreddit.

The moderator even announced to the trolls that I had filed a harassment report (and joined in the harassment him/her-self). Yes, really:

It is a disgusting hate community and it defies belief that Reddit has not taken action to ban it and stamp communities like it out.

Unfortunately, whenever I blog/YouTube about Reddit cyberbullying I have to turn off comments. There are hordes of trolls who are just waiting for their next safe digital space to leave abuse.

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Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com

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Daniel Rosehill

Daniel Rosehill

Daytime: writing for other people. Nighttime: writing for me. Or the other way round. Enjoys: Linux, tech, beer, random things. https://www.danielrosehill.com

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