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Publishing Bullies to Public = Cyberbullying?

5
Juwita
Hi, everybody.

Recently, there's a cyberbullying case in Britain that caught my attention. Maybe some of you know about this matter. A female lawyer, already established, suffered a terrible backlash in social media, due to her recent act of speaking up against sexism.

The point is, she screencaptured the perpetrator and showed it online, which lead to trolls bullying her even more, harsher than ever. A question then popped up:

Is showing the bullies (or the acts if bullying) to public counts as public shaming, and thus equals to bullying?

Personally, I don't think so. Depends on each case, surely, but in this one, I think it's the same with news media reporting crime and the culprits.

Tell me what do you think ^^
4
CybersmileHQ
Hi Juwita! What an interesting topic - thanks for raising it. Agreed, it would have to depend on the particular case... Why shouldn't people who bully others answer for their crimes, however, if this will just continue the cycle of bullying is it worth it?

Look forward to hearing everyone's thoughts on this!
3
CybersmileTeam
Hi Juwita and welcome to our community! Thank you for your topic and we look forward to your future activity on the forum! A really interesting topic : )
3
Jules92
I think this will just be seen as bullying in itself. It will depend on the person doing the bullying and what they have done, the reaction may be stronger than the original comments made which would be an over reaction. I don't think any case is going to be clear and by going public with the situation, throws it open to being judged by the mob, not good really.
3
Adam
I know the case you are talking about and it is just about peoples opinions. If you go public with something you consider to be inappropriate or sexist etc then you are really opening up the door for all kinds of reactions and not all of those will go your way. This is a very risky tactic and I would be reluctant to go down this route unless the person was clearly being offensive and nasty.
3
Juwita

In reply to Jules92

I agree that more harm can be done in this way rather than if we're taking the "quiet way", which are blocking and reporting.

Sometimes the grey area of bullying itself can be tricky ^^
2
Juwita

In reply to Adam

I think by going public with something, good or bad, there are always people who would see it in negative light. As long as it doesn't fall in the category of bullying, I think it's fine.

I agree that revealing bullies online can be seen as a bullying act itself, though more like "passive aggressive" method. But maybe there are cases (if not this one) when showing the bullies' identities is as important as the action.
4
Reflective_Joy
I second that.Great topic Juwita!

It is tricky. I think we definitely have to be aware how we go public with a bullies actions and what our intentions are in doing so. I think the media likes a good story and do not take into consideration that further bullying could occur, or they don't care as they may side with the initial victim.

I think if sharing it can bring healthy awareness and open discussion it's definitely worth highlighting certain incidents. However, I think we have to be mindful about the possible consequences in doing so.

What are other people's thoughts? If we do share, what information should be omitted to help eliminate the circle effect of bullying?
1
Juwita

In reply to *Reflective_Joy*

I remember some years ago, in my country, there was a bullying case in high school that went so bad. The perpetrators are (obviously teens) girls, calling themselves as Nero Gang.

The bullying itself was very violent, both physically and mentally. The school wasn't informed about all this until a video of them doing their actions went viral.

Sometimes teachers hear rumors, and they can't just immediately act without evidence or clear information of who's doing what to who. And so I just thought, maybe in cases like that, it's required for the bullies (and bullied) to be revealed?
3
Reflective_Joy

In reply to Juwita

That's an interesting point Juwita. I think video evidence definitely helps with proof of bullying. We definitely support people taking screen shots of suspected bullying etc. It can help with any consequences or legal / criminal interventions.

I think where this get's tricky, is when the media takes the information and publishes the story with their own biases attached. How they share a cyberbullying or bullying story can greatly influence how readers will interpret it. At least that is my personal opinion.
A great example would be how the Daily Mail discussed the above story you shared regarding the Lawyer in Britain. They wrote that piece in a very aggressive manner vilifying the victim. In the old days, you would privately discuss a news piece with your friends or co workers but now with open comments sections attached to most news articles, people can express their opinion openly and reach millions with their thoughts and beliefs about the story. Though a lot of good can come out of global discussions and debates, it can also leave people open to abuse and bullying. Furthermore, if the news source in question is known to victim blame on a regular basis, you are more likely to witness the same in the comment sections.

I think awareness is important and bullies need to be held accountable but so do the press when reporting on cyberbullying.
2
AeonBlue
"Is showing the bullies (or the acts if bullying) to public counts as public shaming, and thus equals to bullying?" No its a recommended by most chatroom Admins and other places on Social networking to copy and paste what they are saying in pvt to you so they can be named and shamed I have even done it on FB myself when someone was driving me crazy to make them shut up. Sometimes when its close friends and family its not helpful to put them on ignore or report them to FB or other places.
1
CybersmileTeam

In reply to AeonBlue

Thanks for your contribution AEONBLUE, we look forward to appreciating your views. Please feel free to answer or create topics as frequently as you like.
3
TheJudge
Outing the bullies feels like the only way to 'get even' or even to have any footing in the tension whatsoever. The thing is, most of the time they don't care about being exposed as bullies anyway because they are operating from anonymous accounts. The best policy is to block and report but it does feel good when you screenshot and publically highlight their abusive behaviour!
2
heidilynnrussell
If Cybersmile can post a link to the story in question, I'd like to take a look at it. Over here across the Pond, we have not heard of this incident (at least I haven't). I'd like to see how the British media reported it to analyze how their presentation of the topic may or may not have influenced the public reaction against this woman.

Is it possible to post a link or two to a couple of news stories? If not, that's okay, but just thought I'd ask. :-) Thanks!
2
Juwita

In reply to heidilynnrussell

It might need some overlook on the case for you to decide, but in general, how do you think about the act?

Will publishing/going public with information of the bullies count as public shaming? Or is it simply just an act of seeking justice?

Thanks for answering ^^
1
Mac

In reply to heidilynnrussell

Hi Heidi, we can't put external links up but if you google up "female lawyer Linkedin", you will find a full page of links to the story. Hope this helps. :)
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Mac

Hey there, Mac,

Thank you -- I will do a little Internet search to find it. :-) It's a very intriguing topic. Many thanks.
1
CybersmileTeam

In reply to heidilynnrussell

I think the best way to find results would be to google 'female barrister UK LinkedIn harassment'.
Hope this is helpful.
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Juwita

Hi Juwita,

I do need to look at the stories that were published first to form a firm opinion either way. This is a very fascinating topic, though, and I'm glad you posted it!

Off the top of my head, without seeing anything, my gut says that this woman was within her rights to stand up to them in the way that she saw fit.

However, I'm not inside her brain to know her true motives. What I mean is, sometimes when you "stand up to someone" who is a bully, you have your personal reasons for doing it. If it was because she didn't want them to think she was intimidated, then that's one thing. If it was because she was a person in power who knew that by shaming them, she'd do a number on them personally, then that's another.

I think the bottom line is ... how much power does the person have? I'll give you one example ... I'm an American journalist, and there are "tricks of the trade" that I can definitely use when I want to get information. Now if I used those "tricks" to get back at someone, I have crossed an ethical line. I have used the power of my journalistic profession and training to "one up them," if that makes any sense. In that sense, I would be a bully.

Now if this woman, who is a lawyer, knew that by doing what she did she'd create negative legal repercussions for these people (I don't know that, by the way -- this is all hypothetical) ... then she would be using her "power" as a lawyer to get back at them. That would make her a bully.

If, on the other hand, she is someone who feels cornered and that she needed to put out a strong statement: "Hey. Don't mess with me. What you did was not cool, and I am not going to stand for it." Well then. That's just someone standing up for themselves.

Do you see the distinction?

I think it's a fine line ... but again, I need to look at the articles written about this incident to form an opinion either way.

Bottom line, though, is that 1) her motives and 2) her personal power/standing in society both play into how much of the behavior was bullying and how much of the behavior was just a way of saying, "Cut it out."

Again, thanks for posting this, because it really is a fascinating discussion!
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to *CybersmileTeam*

Got it! Thanks, Cybersmile Team! :-D
1
CybersmileTeam

In reply to heidilynnrussell

You're very welcome, great to see you active on here! Thank you for your contribution!
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Juwita

Hello again, Juwita,

I finally had time to circle around with this and look at the articles referenced. And now I do have a firm opinion. Since you asked me for it, I'm going to provide it, at the risk of rubbing a few people the wrong way. But here we go. :-)

I see errors on both sides. No one is 100 percent correct in this situation. And it's really dicey.

First of all, the male lawyer was at fault in his communication. The forum was LinkedIn, not a dating site. It wasn't even Twitter. It was LinkedIn, which has a purpose of putting people together so that they can network to advance their careers and businesses. She didn't reach out to him to connect, which usually is the case when a younger person wants to make connections to "mentors." He reached out to her. Then when she accepted, he sent her a note about her appearance. If she has no basis for knowing who he is, a private note like that is jarring. And in that scenario, he has "power over" her. He obviously has more standing in the profession than she does. To rebuff him, even privately, is to rock your professional boat.

Which leads to where she was at fault. She's younger, so I'll give her some slack here. (I was a real hot head when I worked full-time in newsrooms in my 20s and 30s, which is why I can understand her reaction.) But point in fact, her photo IS stunning. She is beautiful. I'm not saying I'm as gorgeous as she is, but I have received similar compliments in my profession. Older men have a different way of dealing with women than a woman's peers. I give the older men a LOT of lee way with this, because frankly, that was their culture. They gave compliments to women openly and they are truly taken aback if a woman responds in the manner that this woman responded. They don't mean to be sexist. They just see a pretty face and want to say, "I think you look nice." Maybe some people would say I'm being very naive here, but a woman knows the difference between a man who is actively harassing her and a man who is simply giving a gracious compliment.

In reading this man's note to this woman, I feel it was the latter. He was an older gentleman saying, "That is a lovely photo." Unfortunately, he's a married man with two children, too. And like I said earlier, this was LinkedIn, not a dating site. AND he didn't know her personally. So he shouldn't have done that. But I have received notes like the one he sent to her, and that was just a compliment. She could have just said, "How kind. Thank you." The end. She might have won over a mentor.

Where she took it too far was taking this thing to Twitter and going public with it. If she felt that strongly about it, she should have left it with the private note and then severed the connection on LinkedIn. That would have sent a very powerful message without taking this thing into the stratosphere, and she would have maintained her professional dignity.

My late father used to tell me, "Always choose your battles wisely, and when you do battle, make sure you can win the war, because there WILL be a war if you stand up for yourself."

This woman chose to battle, but I think her strategy went far afield. She's outflanked. She reacted with emotion instead of thinking this one through with her head. I understand why she did it, but professionally, she actually did do a number on herself.

And if I was in a law firm where I had the power to decide whether to bring her on, I would never hire her. Her inability to handle this situation with grace and tact speaks louder than his misjudgment in sending a compliment in writing on a professional networking social media site.

Sorry for being so long-winded, but thank you for asking for my opinion. This was fun to dissect, and I hope I did not offend anyone. :-)
2
Jules92

In reply to heidilynnrussell

Totally agree with you. This is not a clear cut case and you have brought up a very good point about age and cultural gap in perception etc. This guy probably felt safe about extending a compliment to her BECAUSE he is married and in a stable relationship. Whatever your opinion on motives etc, she has managed to handle it all the wrong way and ended up worse off because of her reaction, not the original comment itself, which was relatively benign.
0
Juwita
Thank you for all the replies!

I deeply appreciate all opinions shared kindly above, and some really helped broaden my perspective on things. Thanks for that!

What started this post was of course the particular case I mentioned before, but I was really curious about the act of "punishing the bullies" by going public with what they did. In general, not just in this one case ^^

Personally, I think the best method in dealing with the bullies is to confront or approach them, in private. Going public should only be applied in more complicated cases, where by all means nothing could stop the bullies from doing their deeds, at that time. Or many other reasons.

If there is one thing I can wholeheartedly say is wrong, it's bullying, in all kinds of form. Intentionally or not. Sometimes people don't realize that defending themselves is different with "getting even". Because what other action equals those of bullying acts, if not one itself?
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to Jules92

Hi Jules,
Yes, the best analogy I can give that correlates to this was when I worked a political beat in the Pennsylvania statehouse back in the 90s. There were two types of lawmakers: 1) the older "gentlemen" who treated me like a granddaughter (the Speaker of the House regularly gave me candy when I dropped by his office. I always felt like I was 5.) and 2) the guys who were like characters out of a "Mad Men" episode. These were the guys who could diminish your sense of dignity with one swift look, nevermind the comments.

In the case of the older men, I know they weren't all "grandfatherly," but I gave them a pass if they patted me on the shoulder and said things like, "You're so pretty," or "That dress is very becoming." Whatever. It was their way of communicating, and because I have uncles who were from their era (all World War 2 veterans, they were pretty old and are now gone) ... it never rattled me.

In the case of the latter, I would have reacted probably like this woman would have. But in those cases -- and I'm sure you will know what I mean when I say this -- the comments were made to throw off my questions or to make me feel like an idiot.

There really is a distinction. Now in the case of an online "community" like LinkedIn, it's even murkier, because you can't pick up on non-verbal cues. But when in doubt, it's just best to handle it privately (if you feel it must be addressed).

I will say one more thing on this and then will drop it. ... A good example is that a couple of weeks ago, a man sent me a private message on Twitter. It seemed innocuous enough. Then a couple of days later, he sent me some more messages, this time complimenting my photo, etc. Very similar to what this woman received. Again, I let it go. But THEN, the next day, he sent ME a photograph that I won't even describe here.

My reaction was not to go public with it. All I did was unfollow him on Twitter. I did not block, because I wanted to monitor how persistent he would be after that. He sent me a tweet on the public timeline, and I responded with one word. Polite, but it was curt, and it got the message across, and no one else on Twitter had any idea that there was this "back story."

He hasn't bothered me since, and that's the end of it.

Just use judgment ... I know it's dicey for women, but you do have to think about your careers, so tread carefully. :-)

Thanks again for the opportunity to comment. This was a good discussion, and I appreciated Juwita for bringing it up!
1
Suzanne
I actually think that if you're the victim of someone's abuse online and it makes you feel better to 'out' them as cyberbullies then feel free and show the world how disgusting they've been!
Why should they be treated lightly!