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The new Twitter Poll option and cyberbullying

4
Reflective_Joy
As many of you avid Twitter users know, There have been some new changes to Twitter. They have recently changed the favorite option to hearts and called it a "Like" button and they also added an icon to instantly create your own poll. Both have had mixed reviews by users.

The poll in particular has been used quite creatively and sometimes tongue in cheek. But where my concern lies, is it's potential to be used for more sinister intentions and perhaps already has.

My question is, have you seen the poll being used in a matter that has the potential to hurt or distress another person? What are your thoughts about this new add-on?
1
heidilynnrussell
I've seen the "polls" in the way that you described, most recently in relation to a story about a U.S. presidential candidate that was pretty funny. (The question of the poll was, "Do you think he should tell the truth?" The options on the poll to click were, "Yes" and "Yes." :-)

But I haven't seen it used for cyberbullying purposes. Yet.

Of course, someone could say the poll example I just cited is an example of cyberbullying, but I always feel that politicians are fair game and put themselves out there deliberately, knowing these are the risks.

But this is a great question, and now I'm going to keep an eye out for it because you asked! :-)
1
Cyberninja
With all the attention that Twitter get about abuse on their platform, I doubt very much that they would have floated this boat without due diligence. The potential for this to be used to bully and abuse people is so obvious they must have some sort of monitoring system in place. I rate Twitter as the best platform for current news and all that is crazy in the world so I would hate to see them get it wrong!
1
Petula
I think a lot of things on Twitter have the potential to offend someone and unless a poll is targeting someone for no reason or just to stir up hatred then opinions that 'may' offend need to be left to people to decide whether or not they agree with that particular point of view. Like Ninja chap, I expect Twitter are well aware of the risks and would have thought this one through. Let hope so anyway!!
1
Reflective_Joy

In reply to heidilynnrussell

Thanks Heidi!

I think the poll has the potential to be used to compare and be hurtful. Especially targeting someone vulnerable or getting others on board to "rate" someone. It can definitely feed a bullies need for attention if you used with malicious intent.
1
Reflective_Joy

In reply to Cyberninja

Thanks for your perspective CyberNinja. I'd like to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt. They have definitely made less controversial choices than say, facebook. It would be interesting to see how the poll is used. Hopefully it won't be used for hurtful or malicious comparisons and attacking a person's looks or personality. Because it's a voting tool, I can only imagine what an impact that could have on the person who is on the receiving end.
1
Reflective_Joy
Petula, Agree. I also think, Onus should not always be on the social media platform to necessarily consider that. I think it's more about how people use social media to cyberbully and bullies will always find creative ways to do it. I think that is why education and awareness and understanding the long term ramifications of cyberbullying will help deter people from abusing these tools. Moreover, being aware of the new tools can help those trying to deter cyberbullying behavior online- to be aware of what is or could be used to instigate the behavior. Which I am finding quite interesting and learning more about. In essence, trying to be one step ahead of the bullies! It can empower us and to help us be on guard for that potential abuse.
1
heidilynnrussell

In reply to *Reflective_Joy*

Me again ...
Because you raised this point, I've been keeping an eye out for "polls" on Twitter, just out of curiosity to see how people are using them.
Mostly, I am finding that they are being used by companies that are using them for marketing purposes. I haven't found any of the cyberbullying type of use.
However, that doesn't mean it's not happening ... it could be that the people I'm following just are not the type to do that. I am pretty quick to hit the "block button" at the first sign that someone is using Twitter for abuse, so I may not be interacting with people that are doing this.
That said, so far it's just innocuous stuff like "Where would you want to spend Christmas -- on the beach or on a ski slope?"
If I see something more nefarious, though, I'll tag you on Twitter! :-D
2
Reflective_Joy
Hi Heidi, Thank you for your post!

I was thinking of youth mostly when I was referring to the polls being abused in a negative way. I know in schools sometimes students will engage in bullying behavior in writing, such as conducting "survey's" on a range of topics that target certain people, groups and genders. It just made me wonder if this easy access to polls on social media, could further that kind of bullying. I think the poll option is not a cyberbullying tool, just that it could be used as such. I doubt adults would use it in the manner I had mentioned. It has mostly been used in a fun silly kind of way as you have pointed out, which I have enjoyed reading too!