Archive for November, 2014

Mr. Nice Guy

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

Most of the research I have done on how social media networks, school and parents are working to eliminate cyber bullying, entail battling the phenomenon with other forms of technology. This generally includes advanced software or applications that can be utilized across various platforms. Nothing wrong with this if it is effective. I did, however, find one method that is taking the old approach of using technology to combat cyberbullying, and making some adjustments to it so as to place more emphasis on the humanistic aspect of users.

Arturo Bejar, who is the director of engineering for the Facebook Protect and Care team, is attempting to evoke empathy from Facebook users to correct any harm that may have been done by a nasty post. He believes many Facebook users may not be aware of how hurtful some things they say can be and will feel bad and will be willing to retract comments if they realize they were offensive. Bejar points out the fact that human beings read one another’s tone of voice and facial expressions when communicating, but this is lost when communication is done via devices. In response to that, Bejar has created tools that allow users to elaborate on why they have reported a post as offensive. For example, when reporting a post, it can be labeled as “its embarrassing”. Interaction via the reporting tool has gone from 50% to 78%.

When teenagers have used these features of the reporting tool, only 20% of them actually used the form. Once Facebook added descriptive language such as “feelings” and “sadness”, this number grew to 80%. Bejar has concluded teenagers just need an outlet to express their feelings. He also indicates when asking users why  they made an offensive post, they admit they thought it would be funny or would be like by their friends, not to alarm anyone, surprisingly.

I think Bejar’s plan of appealing to people’s feelings when making posts is a brilliant idea. The numbers (earlier reported on this blog) don’t lie. Of course, cyberbullying is still happening on Facebook, but at least now we know attempting to humanize one another through technology is an effective start.

 

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The Holy Convocation 2014 recently took place in St. Louis, Missouri. It is an annual even hosted by the Church of God in Christ where Christians from all over the country come and pray and worship the Lord together. At this years Holy Convocation, a man came to the altar that wanted to be delivered from homosexuality. Christianity teaches that God loves everyone and this includes homosexuals, but he does not love certain acts, as homosexuality is described in the Bible as an abomination. The video of Andrew Caldwell wanting to be delivered has gone viral. Why? Mainly because Andrew displayed very poor grammar. At one point Andrew declares he is not gay anymore and is “delivert”. He also states he will not date “a men” does not like “mens” anymore, and he will love “a women”. Although Andrew describes in an interview how difficult growing up for him was as an African American homosexual and that his desire for deliverance was sincere, social media users went into a frenzy. The memes and trending hash-tags on Andrew being “delivert” have exploded in popularity. One individual went as far as to create a cartoon using the audio from the video of Andrew at the altar and provided captions to highlight Andrew’s grammatical errors. I must confess, I myself, could not stop laughing when I saw it.

Andrew is now suing Twitter and other social media networks for $50 million dollars because he states these networks are allowing their users to make fun of him and bully him. Andrew states the hate comments he is receiving have caused him to have a nervous breakdown and quit his job. Andrew has also gone into seclusion, he claims, and states the situation is destroying his life mentally and financially.

Andrew genuinely is a victim of online bullying as the jokes on him are incessant, but it is rather difficult to determine if his testimony was authentic or if it was all for show. If it was indeed all for show, this would be a great way to view cyber bullying from a productive perspective. The ease and popularity of cyber aggression is actually catapulting Andrew Caldwell into fame. Recent news indicates he is in the process of writing a book about his experience being a gay black man as well as what it is like being the butt of so many jokes. He is also recently engaged and excited about having children which has the internet like “huh”?

Relying on cyber aggression to produce fame is not a new concept, particularly in Hollywood. Oh how our society loves to treat celebrities like demigods, but cannot help but have a field day when they stumble. Another individual that seems to rely heavily on the internet’s propensity to turn people into jokes would be Kim Kardashian. Kim K is a socialite and is best known for a sex tape she released with her ex boyfriend r and b singer Ray J. She owns a clothing line along with her sisters, is the daughter of a famous attorney, and is currently married and has a child with superstar rapper Kanye West. Kim is known for various antics that set that set social media ablaze such as her recent photo shoot with Paper Magazine that completely exposes her well oiled buttocks as well as a fully exposed frontal photo. The memes are popping up everywhere with the most common being her exposed backside photo shopped onto a coffee machine dispensing coffee to make it appear as if the coffee is coming out of her buns. Internet users are also photo shopping all types of things in between her butt crack. These racy photos Kim likes to take make her a popular trend across all social media platforms and this is how she became famous in the first place: via the sex tape her and Ray J created.

It is disturbing to see how creative outlets like social media are being transformed into “weapons of mass destruction”, and it is interesting to see how individuals are taking this destructive tool and using it for their own personal gain. Certainly no one wishes to become a victim of cyber bullying per se, but we know if antics are ridiculous enough they can earn someone plenty of attention. Its  just a part of the package deal.

 

I am particularity becoming more interested in how technology is able to assist in the fight against cyberbullying and I came across a social network called ‘We Heart It’. The site allows users to share photos with one another but does not allow for comments to be posted on these photos. The only action that can be taken in responding to a friend’s phone is liking it or “hearting” the photo. Hearts on Instagram are the equivalent to likes on Facebook, so its no wonder the heart is symbol the network primarily uses. I wonder how much popularity this app will gain  if interaction is limited to solely to hearting photos. Although the ability to comment on photos does not exist with We Heart It, browsing through the site I am able to see the app still offers many of the features that are so popular on most social media networks today. Uploading photos to other social media networks, using filters and following others, just to name a few. I will have to watch the app for the next few weeks and see if it becomes a hit.

Another app I came across that is specifically designed to interrupt cyberbullying is called StopIt. This app allows those that may be witnessing an instance of cyberbullying to photograph what they see and report it  to their school’s database in real time. One of the reasons cyberbullying is able to continue is because teenagers have a fear of telling someone what is going on. What makes this app so useful is that when a student chooses to report an instance of cyberbullying, it is completely anonymous. The app also has additional features such as a the STOPit button that allows users to forwards screen captured images of instances of cyberbullying and forwards it to a per-approved trusted adult. This feature is not anonymous. One feature of STOPit I think is particularly useful is the HELPit button that links youth with a support organization if they need someone to talk to. As mentioned earlier, teenagers typically keep the bullying to themselves because they fear and adult would not understand and would not be able to help. Although the HELPit button is useful for encouraging teens to talk to someone if they need help, the issue of if they will do it or not still persists.