Category Archives: cyberbullying

Anonymous – is it always the right way to act?

 

A few months ago, I watched a video released by Anonymous, asking to take actions against the boys involved in Rehtaeh Parsons’s death. The video release was addressed to the general public, police, rapists, Rehtaeh’s high school, and students who allegedly gang-raped Rehtaeh. The message was very powerful as Rehtaeh’s case was reopened and four boys were charged.

Anonymous is a group of international activists whose goal it is to “help govern the world.” Many of its members are programmers who often hack or threaten to release classified or sensitive information to the public, if an organization does not take certain actions.

One may consider Anonymous as a great organization that helps make our world a better place, but I sometimes question its actions. I personally don’t like when people hide behind a mask and coercing the government to act in a certain way. Such an approach can compromise the work that the government does, and can even be interpreted as being of a terrorist nature. I do understand that Anonymous may have the interest of people in mind, but we need to take a look at the big picture.

The government is there to protect its people. Public servants have the education and experience required to deal with certain situations. Anonymous on the other hand, my not necessarily have the experience or the necessary perspective to respond accordingly to perceived wrongs committed by the government. In fact, due its limited scope, the actions of Anonymous can cause more harm than good. For instance, in Rehtaeh’s case, releasing the names of the alleged rapists would have not only contravened the Youth Criminal Justice Act  that aims to protect the identity of minors, but it would have also prevented justice from being carried out properly. The release of the names of those boys, before the police and courts could determine their culpability would have compromised their security but also their right to a fair trial.

In summary, Anonymous tries to make the world a better place, but unfortunately, sometimes it does the opposite. It teaches other people that making threats and breaking the law are acceptable ways to achieve one’s goals. People must be mindful that such actions may compromise the core foundations on which our society is built.

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Cyber-bullying – a teenager-only problem?

In recent years, cyber-bullying has become an issue of concern. There have been numerous cases of victimized teenagers, who in face of vicious cyber-bullying resorted to suicide.  With Cyber-bullying becoming a big concern, many campaigns have emerged seeking to curb its prevalence. These campaigns target teenagers, young adults and their parents so that they know how to respond in case cyber-bullying becomes an issue.

Since cyber-bullying is always portrayed as a problem of teenagers, I personally have never thought that it could affect adults. You can, therefore, imagine my surprise when I came across the story of Anita Sarkeesian. Anita is a Canadian media critic and blogger, who has devoted her work to exploring feminist issues. During one of her projects, “Tropes vs Women in Video Games”, she explored the depiction of women in video games. Throughout her study, Anita was cyberbullied on multiple occasions through a variety of media channels.  According to Anita, the individuals who cyber-bullied her were mostly grown up men, in their 30s, who viewed the attacks against her as an online game in which she was the target that had to be eliminated. Luckily, Anita received a lot of support from her peers, allowing her to continue her project despite the cyber-bullying.

Based on Anita’s story, I now realize that cyber-bullying is not a problem that is restricted to teenagers, as it can affect all age groups. Unfortunately, most anti-cyber-bullying campaigns that we see are aimed at teenagers only. Thus, I believe that existing campaigns should widen their scope so that people understand that cyber-bullying is not a problem restricted to a single demographic. By talking more about cyber-bullying and bringing more cases like that of Anita to light, I believe we would be better positioned to tackling this problem in all of its manifestations.