Posted: 26 February 2018

Social media giants must get tougher on cyberbullying

Last year we collaborated with YoungMinds to conduct a survey of more than 1,000 young people aged 11-25 to find out about their experiences of cyberbullying.

Many revealed they had been excluded from conversations, received threatening messages, or had embarrassing information shared about them. Young people themselves called for social media giants to do more to combat cyberbullying.

‘People are sometimes really horrible over social media and say things they would never say to someone's face.’ - Girl, 13

The cyberbullying inquiry

This was part of an inquiry, led by Alex Chalk MP, to examine what social media giants are currently doing to tackle cyberbullying and what more needs to be done to protect young people.

Young people who had experienced cyberbullying bravely and confidently shared their experiences with a panel of experts and MPs. They also heard from academics and professionals about how children use different social media and from popular social media companies themselves about what they are doing to tackle cyberbullying.

‘Children tell us that their reports are often ignored and recovery services simply do not exist.’ -  Parent Zone

Watch our video below to find out more from the inquiry:

What we found

One of the things we heard again and again, from both young people and from adult experts, was that because social media is always present cyberbullying can feel inescapable.

‘The combination of either partial or total anonymity and the sheer global reach of the digital world means that people often say things in a more direct way online than they would face to face’ - Baroness Harding, former Chief Executive of TalkTalk

‘There are ‘I hate so and so’ groups that people join.’ - Boy, 17

‘Apps such as TimeHop can remind a user of what they were doing in the past. This can bring back bad memories.’ - Young person

‘If it’s [cyberbullying] happening over livestream, how do you get them to stop?’ - Young person

‘30 years ago, home was a safe place, but now there is no escape from the bullying. It creates constant stress and anxiety that is hard to navigate’ - Liam Hackett, Ditch the Label

The message was clear from the evidence gathered - social media giants are not doing enough to prevent bullying on social media or to tackle it when it does happen.

Young people call for change

The social media companies including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr all accepted their responsibility to keep young people safe online. But the question now is how they go about achieving this.

The young people we heard from told us what they would like to see change:

  • ‘Take control and really start tackling it’
  • ‘Suspend and remove anyone who cyber bullies - a three strikes and you're out kind of policy’
  • ‘Make it much easier and less scary to report someone’
  • ‘Have guidelines on when you need to report and not just shrug it off’
  • ‘Have a really clear section in the ‘help bit’ of the website and maybe show this on the tour that a lot of websites give you when you join.'
  • ‘They could also just give a little pop up window whenever they update this so all the users are aware.’

Faster and firmer action to stop cyberbullying

The recommendations in our report call time on the status-quo. Alongside YoungMinds and Alex Chalk MP, we want social media companies to get tougher on cyberbullying, taking faster and firmer action to stop it.

Right now the Government is taking steps to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online. This is the perfect opportunity for the Government and the social media industry to work together, with our help, to create a safe space for young people.

How you can get involved

If you want to get involved in the conversation, why not share your thoughts on Twitter, or you can share one of our tweets below:

  • 'Young people want #socialmedia companies to get tougher on cyberbullying. @childrensociety, @YoungMindsUK & @AlexChalkChelt are calling for social media companies to take faster, firmer action. #KindOnline'
  • '.@YoungMindsUK & @AlexChalkChelt found that the constant presence of social media makes cyberbullying feel inescapable for thousands of young people. #KindOnline'
  • 'I think social media companies aren’t doing enough to tackle cyberbullying. I support @childrensociety, @YoungMindsUK & @AlexChalkChelt calling for social media companies to take faster, firmer action. #KindOnline'
By Matthew Hussey - Policy team

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