Why in the news?
A recent death of a woman in Kerala has highlighted the issues with cyberbullying.
What is cyberbullying?
- Cyberbullying refers to using technology, such as social media platforms, text messages, or email, to harass, intimidate, or embarrass someone.
- It is an aggressive behaviour that can have serious and long-lasting consequences for the victim.
- Cyberbullying can occur in different forms, such as spreading rumours, sharing embarrassing photos or videos, making hurtful comments, or threatening someone online.
Forms of Cyberbullying
- Repeatedly sending offensive or threatening messages to someone through text messages, social media, or email.
- Spreading false and damaging information about someone online to harm their reputation.
- Intentionally leaving someone out of online conversations or groups or blocking them from social media accounts.
- Pretending to be someone else online, either by creating a fake account or hacking into someone else’s account.
Posting embarrassing photos or videos
- Sharing humiliating pictures or videos of someone online, without their consent, to humiliate them.
- Making provocative or offensive comments online to get a reaction from others. Threats: Making threats of physical harm or other forms of violence towards someone online.
Issues with Cyberbullying
Emotional and psychological harm
- Cyberbullying can cause significant emotional and psychological harm to the victim, including feelings of anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. In some cases, it can also lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Academic and social problems
- Cyberbullying can impact a victim’s academic performance and social life, leading to isolation, difficulty concentrating, and declining academic achievement.
- Cyberbullying can, at times, cross the line into criminal behaviour, such as harassment or stalking, and can result in legal action being initiated against the perpetrator.
Cyber safety concerns
- Cyberbullying can make victims feel unsafe online and cause them to withdraw from social media and other online activities, limiting their access to important resources and information.
Negative community impact
- Cyberbullying can negatively impact the wider community, creating a culture of fear and hostility and leading to social fragmentation and the breakdown of trust and respect between individuals.
Government Initiatives Against Cyberbullying
National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal
- The union government has launched a National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal that allows citizens to report cybercrimes, including cyberbullying. This helps law enforcement agencies to track and investigate such crimes more effectively.
The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021
- The union government has recently introduced new guidelines for social media platforms and intermediaries that require them to remove objectionable content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint. This is intended to prevent the spread of harmful and offensive content, including cyberbullying.
Cybercrime Investigation Cells
- The government has set up specialised Cybercrime Investigation Cells in various cities to investigate cybercrimes, including cyberbullying.
Awareness and Education Programs
- The Indian government has launched several awareness and education programs to educate citizens about safe online behaviour and to prevent cyberbullying. These programs include online safety workshops, awareness campaigns, and school-based education programs.
Cybercrime Prevention Strategy
- The Indian government has developed a National Cybercrime Prevention Strategy to prevent cybercrimes, including cyberbullying, by promoting cyber hygiene, raising awareness, and building capacity among law enforcement agencies.