Due to the recent suicides that have occurred, our course at USC has developed a social service project to fight against cyber bullying. We are @Wall Watch, http://wallwatch.sosclassroom.org/. The use of Facebook to publicly humiliate people has increasingly become a problem in most high schools and middle schools and has taken the act of bullying to a whole new level. Therefore, our class has decided to reach out to the people that have fallen victim to this problem and act as their voice. We have developed a web page that will provide resources to these students to help cope and fight against cyber bullies.
In order to succeed we need your help! We understand that Facebook has started their own efforts to stop this growing problem that is occurring on your website; however, we have noticed that Facebook is leaving out one critical step to helping these people: the ability to flag wall posts, comments and people’s statuses.
After conducting some research, our class has discovered that you are beta testing the ability to flag comments; however, there have been mixed reviews about this gradual implementation process, since not everyone is given this power. In addition, most users were complaining that their posts were being flagged by people they did not even know, which did not seem fair.
- Granting all of their users the ability to flag people’s statuses, comments and wall posts whatever they deem inappropriate
- Isolate a person’s ability to flag written content to only the specific communities, networks and groups that they are registered with or if their name is mentioned anywhere on Facebook
- Make flagging anonymous in order to protect people
The major problem that our class has is that the innocent victims have no way of protecting themselves from being bullied. Yes, people can report that person and Facebook will delete that person’s profile; however, in a matter of minutes that bully can be up and running back on Facebook under a new account harassing their peer. We understand that the victim can delete this person from their friends; however, what is stopping the bully from sending them a friend request with a horrible message attached? The bully could also go public with their comments and post horrible things about that person in their status or on their wall or other classmates walls, which is out on the web for the entire school to read and publicly humiliates one of their peers. Facebook has already allowed people to flag pictures, so the next practically step is to allow users to flag comments, wall posts or statues.
If you have any resources that you could recommend to help users combat against cyber bullying, please let us know.
P.S. Since we are conducting a project, it is vital that you respond to our request with any information, so that we can have some useful information.
Thanks for your email. We are always happy to hear of students looking at Facebook as part of their studies and we’re happy you reached out to us. We love that you are working to help people who’ve been targets of bullying and that you’re using Facebook to do so! We appreciate your concern about cyberbullying because the safety of the people that use Facebook is extremely important to us, and we have strict policies that prohibit the posting of content that bullies or harasses. Facebook is based on a real name culture, where people must associate their actions with their true names and identities in front of their real world friends and family. We maintain a robust reporting infrastructure that leverages the 500 million people who use our site to keep an eye out for offensive or potentially dangerous content. This reporting infrastructure includes report links on pages across the Facebook site, systems to prioritize the most serious reports, and a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement as needed. This team treats reports of harassing messages and impostor profiles as a priority, as well as reports for groups and Pages where “Targets me or a friend” is chosen as the reporting reason. We also prioritize serious reports submitted through the contact forms in our Help Center.
Facebook regularly participates in educational campaigns around bullying with organizations like MTV, BBC, PACER, the National Crime Prevention Council (US) Beat Bullying (UK), and many, many others. Facebook was also a founding member of the Stop Cyberbullying Coalition convened by WiredSafety. Our Safety Center (part of our Help Center) contains FAQs on how to prevent and address bullying (http://www.facebook.com/help/?faq=16390). We recently convened the Facebook Network of Support, bringing together 5 leading gay-rights advocacy groups plus MTV to fight bullying.
We’re concerned about any abusive behavior, and have made these efforts to promote an environment where everyone on Facebook can connect and share comfortably. We encourage those who notice bullying to report it to us, and to discuss with parents, teachers, and others in the community who can help. We think that the numerous report links on virtually every page of our site make it easy to report abusive content or offensive content which violates our standards.
With regard to your proposal, let me address each bullet point:
· People on Facebook do have the ability to flag statuses and wall posts on all Pages, Groups and Profiles. We also allow reports on comments on a Page or Group at this time. We are always iterating and testing ways to improve the experience for people using Facebook, so there may be further changes in time.
· We believe that Facebook has the feel of a well-lighted public place and we rely on our five hundred million users to find and flag content for us. With a user base of over half a billion people, across virtually every country and language on earth, we have effectively created a “neighborhood watch” of eyes and ears. Your suggestion of limiting people’s ability to flag content would actually hinder the reporting that we rely on to keep the site safe and free from content that violates our standards.
· Any report on Facebook is completely anonymous and the person reporting is never identified to anyone.
Because of our large scale, solutions which at first glance seem to make sense are often difficult to implement. We are grateful for your feedback though, and the fact that your Facebook Page is going to help combat bullying and help people find resources that can assist them. I’d also point you to the website www.connectsafely.org, which is one of members of our Safety Advisory Board, and to this blog post by Anne Collier about cyberbullying, http://www.connectsafely.org/NetFamilyNews/cyberbullying-what-ive-learned-so-far.html We feel that she has a point, that Facebook is rarely the only place where people, kids in particular, are acting out. If they are cyberbullying on Facebook, they are probably using other media to harass, and these actions are a reflection of the broader context of real-life activity. MTV’s A Thin Line campaign is another great resource for teens, and their “Draw Your Line” (http://www.athinline.org/drawyourline) site can be really helpful. We also recommend that people “like” the Facebook Safety Page to get regular updates on what we’re doing and what’s in the news about Internet safety.
Finally, I loved your video teaching people about how to “tag” Wall Watch in their posts to friends. It is a great example of how you are creatively using Facebook to help others.
Thanks for writing,