From sending letters via postman to sending a text with just a click, we have come so far in technology and with it also came cyber harassment.
It was the Internet and telecommunication advancements that made possible such scenarios which was a like dream to us.
And being social is in trend now, not in society though, but through social networking sites.
A platform for all of us to be ourselves. A place giving all the freedom to our thoughts, expression, interpretations. A way to showcase your support and disagreement against anything going on. A Dais to present your talents and skills.
From opening the gate of entertainment to making it possible to communicate with friends, relatives, etc. who are not around us?
Social Media for All
Social networking sites simply means a way of being social with technology. But we are mostly aware of one face of the coin. Social media apart from all the desirable features is now a tool of a bully, troll, stalk, and spreading hate and becoming a center of attraction of our generation.
Globally, one in three internet users (33%) is a child, as per a 2016 estimate by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The more recent India Internet Report 2019 suggested that in India, two in three internet users (66%) are between 12 and 29 years of age. We can see it is attracting the youth, the future of our nation, and sphering a new cyber world with socializing cyber crimes. Now, let’s jump into details, how it is becoming more of harassment.
Harassment Through Social Media
It is very harsh to know that India ranks at number 3 in the list of online bullying cases as per the survey conducted by Microsoft in 25 countries and it is more distressing to know that 53% of children age 8-17 are bullied online.
What is the probable reason for it? The victim and the culprit, both are teenagers.
How are our Teenagers filled up with so much of non-uniformity, distress, and fickle-minded thoughts? The answer is this technology.
For matching the pace with this high-tech world they have started involving themselves more and more in the latest technical facilities and gadgets available. It’s making them more active in the cyber world which could be much entertaining on one side but is also a way to cyber harassment. And it is such kind of injury or damage which leaves its scars for the rest of life.
Cyberbullies are done by people of tender age, they lack the sense of understanding of their action and what long-lasting repercussions it can have on the person being bullied. Some of the reasons can be anger, frustration, boredom, a need for laughter, and lack of knowledge too.
The main reason for cyber revolves around the fact of revenge and power. In most of the cases, such kind of cyber abuse is just a kind of rage to satiate his/her desires when the culprit cannot do things in front of you. Just to become socially powerful, people may try to demean others. Jealousy can also be one of the reasons giving rise to cyber harassment. Since teen years attracts jealousy soon, jealous minors are potential bullies.
And sometimes the social sites enhance the participation in cyberbullying by posting confession pages. A trending way to harass someone by posting anything about anybody without being the identity revealed. Sometimes it includes posting of photos which can be humiliating or posting some secret information about the victim.
And it’s such a platform that discriminates without looking at the background and identity of a person. From a normal student to a celebrity, everybody goes through the same ferocity. A recent example we can take of Anushka Sharma being trolled for her husband’s bad performance. And it has been found that girls are more prone to such cyber harassment.
A kind of online bullying through any electrical gadgets like phone, tablets, laptops, etc. showing wreath behaviors that cover posting rumors about someone, any personal comment, trying to public your personal information in front of all, any kind of comment teasing your choices, posting provoking labels or it can be any sexual remarks too.
How to deal with it?
- Report on the social site which you are using.
- Block that user.
- If he/she hasn’t ‘stopped, you can take legal steps like filing a police complaint under the law mentioned below :
- Section 67 of the Information Technology Act deals with cyberbullying, Section 67 of the act prescribes punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form for a term which may extend to five years and also with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.
- Section 507 IPC – This section states that if anyone receives criminal intimidation via anonymous communication, then the person giving threats shall be punished with imprisonment for up to two years. The offense of anti-bullying and cyberbullying via Anonymous modes is included in this section.
- Section 66 E of IT Act – This section prescribes punishment for violation of privacy. The section states that any person who intentionally violates privacy by transmitting, capturing, or publishing private pictures of others shall be punished with up to three years imprisonment or a fine up to three lakhs.
Stalking someone using social sites is called cyberstalking. Keeping a check on the activities of the victim without being detected by her/him.
There are various psychological reasons behind stalking like severe narcissism, hatred, rage, retribution, envy, obsession, psychiatric dysfunction, power and control, fantasies, sexual deviance, Internet addiction or religious fanaticism(CYBER STALKING: A CRITICAL STUDY by Ms. Heena Keswani) those are caging the personal freedom of someone.
What to do?
- Report against the user on that social site.
- Block the user.
- Tell your parents, friends, siblings, anyone, with whom you are comfortable talking about this.
- Viral the messages or any identity of the stalker and let everyone know about him/her. (Spread Awareness)
- Boldly counter his/her activities without fear. Don’t be afraid to speak out. The stalker is a coward & can’t do you any harm.
- If the stalker hasn’t stopped, then file complains against him under the mentioned sections:
Section 354D mentions that if anyone tries to monitor the activities of a woman on the internet, it will amount to stalking. Thus, if the stalker indulges in any of the activities defined in the section, he shall be guilty of the offense. (www.legilative.gov.in, CHAPTER XVI, pg no. – 80)
Section 292 of IPC defines “obscenity”. The offense of cyberstalking takes within its purview the act of sending obscene materials to the other person who would read, see or hear the content of such material then he shall be guilty of the offense. (www.legilative.gov.in, CHAPTER XIV, pg no. – 67).
Section 67B of Information Technology Act, 2000 is a newly inserted section. The section focuses on when a stalker targets children below the age of 18 years and publishes material in which children are engaged in sexual activities to terrorize the children. (Indian Penal Code, 1860, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860)
Section 507 of IPC relates to “criminal intimidation by anonymous communication.” It ensures the very characteristic of cyberstalking i.e., anonymous identity. The stalker shall be guilty under this section if he attempts to conceal his/her identity. (www.legilative.gov.in, CHAPTER XXII, pg no. – 111)
Section 66E of Information Technology Act, 2000, and Section 354C of the Indian Penal Code deal with “voyeurism”. Whoever intentionally or knowingly captures, publishes, or transmits the image of a private area of any person without his or her consent, under circumstances violating the privacy of that person, shall be punished. (Information Technology Act, 2000, No. 21, Acts of Parliament, 2000)
The word “Trolling” means criticizing someone’s thoughts, comments, choices, etc. When such criticisms occur on Internet platforms (mostly in Social media), it becomes cyber trolling. Supporters argue it’s about humor or freedom of speech and expression. However, for some the egregious and personal nature of the abuse causes great distress.
What to do?
- Report against the user.
- Block that user.
- Telling someone is good for your mental health.
- File complaint under section 67 Information Technology 2000 for publishing obscene material in electronic form.
Consequences of Harassment on the Victim
The rampant spread of the cyber world is moving our generation into a virtual world where they are masters of their own created world. The person being bullied can go through depression and trauma.
We live in a society where our respect and character is the primary priority. And someone invading it could cause great ups and downs in our life. It can decrease the self-confidence of someone and can make them feel ashamed in front of all. Some cases can become so harsh that the victim steps to suicide or starts thinking about such life-risking steps.
Steps towards Safer Social Media
There is no doubt that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression. Every person who opens an account has the right to post there and in this way, he can enjoy the right of freedom of speech and expression. However, this right of the internet user is not absolute and is subject to restrictions.
A person who opens an account on social media shall behave in a civilized way and follow certain rules some of which are mentioned below so that he can enjoy his right of freedom of speech and expression and at the same time the rights of others such as the right to reputation, right to privacy, etc. are also protected.
- Avoid using foul language
- When you are posting anything about others, always use decent language; avoid such language which might hurt the sentiments of others.
- Say “No” to sexual content.
- Social media forums should be used for healthy interactions and sexually explicit content should be avoided which is intended to demean an individual or a group of people.
Avoid rude and personal criticism
- Any temptation of rude or personal criticism should be avoided at all costs. It is seen that people get agitated when some results do not go in their favor, for example, when India loses a cricket match the fans put personal or derogatory comments. It is not wrong to criticize, but it should be reasonable and fair, and not personal.
- At times, Your intentions of posting such comments may not be to cause harm, but remember to be more responsible for the content you put out there, as it will be accessible by people of all age/sex/interests, etc.
Cyber Police needs to be more active
- It is true that the police are doing a good job of bringing the cybercriminals to books, still need to increase their rate of conviction, so that there will be some fear of punishment in the cybercriminals and harassment cases decreases.
Role of Media, Influencers, owners of Social networking site
- They can largely contribute to bringing awareness towards various “Don’ts” of Social media so that Teens realize what could be the consequences of reckless usage of such a powerful platform.
- Reforms for certain basic legal awareness.
- The internet users are basically the “Youth” who lacks sound legal knowledge, so regular awareness programs by the government/Schools/Colleges/Workplace, etc. should be organized to discourage people from getting involved in any of the above-mentioned activities.
Rather than being dependent on technology for everything, we need to take measures to prevent such offenses.
There should be more awareness about the concept of cyberbullying, its consequences, and the mental state of the person being bullied. This should be done from ground level i.e. our home to schools and the to colleges, society and everywhere.
Parents should make their kids understand the importance of someone’s privacy and someone’s space which shouldn’t be invaded. They should teach them the difference between a friendly gesture and harassment.
Parents should keep a check on the internet usage and activities of their child. They should also make some rules in the house related to internet usage. There should be a healthy relationship with the child and should encourage the child to share with them any incident of them being bullied.
There can be advertisements on the effects of cyberbullying, cyber ethics, and the laws being used for such offenses. And additionally, we should bloom into a society of equality and shouldn’t be differentiated for your fun and laughter. Don’t be the reason for vanishing someone’s peace.
*Disclaimer: We don’t intend to give Ideas to harass someone using Social media. It’s for Raising Awareness on this particular issue. You are always welcomed to spread your learnings from this blog & help yourself as well as others.