Special Report : Bullying On Facebook & In Social Games
Bullying on Facebook & with the social games has gotten out of control and from what I am seeing and hearing from victims of it and nothing is being done by anyone to stop it.
Everyone seems to agree on one thing, Bullying is a form of abuse. According to Wikipedia, Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways.
Yes that is true, it does take on many forms but what can & should be done by Facebook & the social games. Well lets put it this way, Facebook & the social games need to crack down on it more and stop passing the buck to local authorities when it comes to bullying.
According to the Facebook help center’s answer this is what you should do if you are being bullied.
First, don’t respond or retaliate. Bullies often seek a reaction from the people they harass. When they fail to get one, they often give up gradually. Rather than responding to a bully via a message, a Wall post, or Facebook Chat, you can use the “Block” or “Report” functions to resolve the issue safely. Remember, only confirmed friends can post to your Wall or send you a message through Chat. If you are receiving posts and Chat messages you don’t like, you should consider removing the sender from your friends list. If you block the person, they will automatically be removed as a friend. If you ever feel threatened by something you see on the site, tell a parent or an adult you trust. You can save or print out the offensive comments or messages so you will have evidence if the information is later taken down.
Report abusive behavior directly to Facebook. The most efficient way to report abuse is to do it in the same place it occurs – on Facebook. For example, if you receive a harassing message on Facebook, you can report the message by clicking on the “Actions” link at the top of the page as you are reading the message. If you receive a harassing message from a person who is a Facebook friend of yours, you should remove the person as a friend and report the message. Reporting the message as harassing will automatically add this person to your Block list. You can also use the “Report/Block person” link that appears at the bottom of the abusive user’s profile. If you learn that someone is continuing to make abusive comments about you even after you’ve blocked them, you can ask a friend to report that person on your behalf. Reports are confidential, and the person being reported does not know that they have been reported. After a report is submitted, we will investigate the issue and determine whether or not the content should remain on the site based on our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. A Facebook administrator looks into each report thoroughly before taking action. Please note that our team makes it a priority to respond to reports of harassing messages on the site.
While this is good advise it doesn’t go far enough especially when the persons life is threatened. Facebook’s answer to that is to report it to your local authorities. Yes I agree with that but I also think that Facebook needs to also disable the account of the accused bully while the reports are being investigating. Facebook has no problem disabling people when they add to many friends so disabling someone for a cyber bullying investigation should not be an issue as this is a much more serious issue.
If after the investigation of bullying and even extortion they find the person did make those said threats then the person needs to banned, have their IP address blocked from the site and in cases of extortion or physical threats work with the authorities and press for prosecution of the said offender. Remember it is a violation of the terms of service to do that to a user.
I tried to reach Facebook in regards to this issue and have not gotten a call back as of yet.
Now on to social games. We have been seeing major issues of bullying & that in some cases they are actual crimes being committed but nothing is being done by the companies.
In some social games, we have seen well documented reports and posts of players trying to extort virtual items & game cards ( actual money) from players to make it so they stop attacking them in the game. While the players have reported this and supplied the documentation nothing is being done by these game companies.
While yes, being attacked and attacking back is part of some games, sometimes people take it to extremes. They get mad at a player and never stop attacking them thus making playing the game unenjoyable, so the player being bullied tends to drop the game after getting no results from the game companies or by Facebook.
In some case bullies will use automated bots to just attack players even while they are not there so when the player being bullied logs into the game their character is already dead by the time it fully loads making it impossible for them to play the game to its fullest.
Social game companies, I know, are struggling to come up with a definitive ways to combat bullies and define what really constitutes bullying is on their end. Fighting and attacking people is part of some games but there needs to be boundaries, set rules and safeguards for the players.
In my opinion if a player is trying to extort or is using automated means to continually attack another player and it has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt then the player needs to be banned permanently. The said game company should then work with Facebook to have the bullies account permanently disabled and banned. But unfortunately it never happens.
I also know some of these game companies are unsure of what they can do because they are bound by Facebook rules, so it might be time that these companies along with law enforcement officials get together for a conference and come up with a definitive set of rules and work together to protect its users. Maybe even work together to make it where a player blocks a user on Facebook, who is being abusive & bullying, they are not only blocked on Facebook they are also blocked with all the social games even if the bully has the players game link. That would definitely get the approval from the victimized players.
There are currently plenty of groups and pages out there to help players & users. There are many blogs & news agencies that are also reporting on this issue now as they have heard enough from the players and users to warrant coverage. So the time is here to do something and to do it fast before someone actually gets hurt.
Here are just a couple of sites you can go to for assistance if you are being bullied.
- http://www.stopcyberbullying.org/ This is one Facebook is a Co-Founder of.
- http://www.facebook.com/help/?safety The Facebook Safety Center
As far as the social games are concerned you would have to do a search for your specific game to find the ones that may be able to help you. In Mafia Wars numerous families & groups are more than willing to help you with bully issues but you need to be able to show them proof so they aren’t conceived as bullies and it proves to them it is justified.
Hopefully this will open Facebook’s & the social game companies eyes and maybe they can get together and do something to eliminate this issue. I sure hope so and we want to hear from you, please feel free to comment on this blog our go to our fan page wall and tell us what you think about this issue.