Cyberbullies badgered Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones yesterday on Twitter to the point that Jones left in tears. Jones received everything from racial slurs to sexual harassment from several different cyberbullies who went on the attack after Leslie called the cyberbullies out for their behavior.
I feel like I’m in a personal hell. I didn’t do anything to deserve this. It’s just too much. It shouldn’t be like this. So hurt right now.
— Leslie Jones (@Lesdoggg) July 19, 2016
While many of Hollywood’s elite are quite familiar with the vicious attacks of cyberbullying or internet trolls, it’s also a common problem for pretty much anyone on the internet these days. According to Cyberbullying.org, a recent research study shows that approximately 34 percent of middle schoolers have been the victim of some form of cyberbullying, and as new social media platforms have emerged, the instances of cyberbullying among high schoolers has increased steadily, according to the Megan Meier Foundation.
While the cyberbullying against Leslie Jones was sickening and Jones’ subsequent breakdown over the bullies was heartbreaking, Jones received a show of support from fellow members of the film industry as well as fans, resulting in the trending of the #LoveForLeslieJ hashtag for hours on Twitter, according to several news outlets including People.
Despite the show of support for Jones, however, many were left wondering what if anything could be done to help prevent not only the future cyberbullying of Leslie Jones but others as well. Is there anything that can prevent the abuse of these keyboard warriors, internet trolls, or cyberbullies? While the legal system struggles to keep up with the ever-changing pace of the cyber world, here are some tips to help navigate your war against cyberbullies:
1. Immediately save any evidence of cyberbullying. One tool that exists out in the cyber world that could interfere with you making a case against the bully is the delete button. Immediately grab a screenshot of the offensive post before the bully can hide the evidence.
2. Report any cyberbullying on social media, even if it’s not directed at you. All too often, others are afraid to stand up to cyberbullies, allowing them to perpetuate the pain. In the case of Leslie Jones, so many people came to her defense that the chief executive of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, personally reached out to her. While Jones is a celebrity and most people wouldn’t get the star treatment over cyberbullying, the more voices that rise up against internet trolls, the more likely social media platforms will improve their websites to combat cyberbullies.
3. Block the cyberbully. While this tactic cannot prevent disparaging your name and reputation, it can prevent future attacks. Be diligent. Cyberbullies are known to make multiple accounts with pseudonyms to perpetuate their trolling. Block, block, block. Also consider setting your social media accounts to private. While this option seems unlikely for those with a celebrity status, many of those who have become famous due to viral videos such as Peggy Hubbard or Nakia Jones have opened separate accounts that allow them to interact (and delete those who become abusive or bullying) while maintaining their private accounts for a trusted circle of friends or family.
4. Check with your local law enforcement to see if there are any laws to protect you. In March of 2015, actress Ashley Judd found herself in Leslie Jones’ cyberbullied shoes. After multiple people sent Judd vicious tweets, Ashley vowed to press charges against the cyberbullies, according to CNN.
To see if your state currently has laws against cyberbullying, click here.
5. Do not retaliate. Our first instinct to being attacked online may be to fight fire with fire. Personal attacks are a very emotional experience and can elicit the urge to defend ourselves. Responding to a cyberbully by cyberbullying, however, negates the whole purpose of attempting to stop the situation. If you calmly tell a cyberbully to stop and they continue their behavior, initiate the other above responses. Until more advanced solutions are available to the cyberbullying problem, the best we can do is model good internet etiquette to others.
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