How Should Online Bullying Be Punished?

Writers Opinion Online Bullying Punished Featured

Bullying is not anything new. However, with the rise in popularity of social media, it has become much more widespread, as it seems people feel free to just say whatever they want, whether it will hurt someone or not. And sometimes it pushes the limit of hurt and becomes outright cruel.

Dubai happens to take online bullying really seriously. A British woman attended the funeral of her ex-husband in Dubai, and her statements on Facebook from a few years prior when he remarried have come into question, when she appeared to wish him dead and called his new wife a “horse.” This is something she could now go to jail for.

How should online bullying be punished?

Our Opinion

After first stipulating that stories of Dubai make him leery to leave the airport, Andrew said he believes the default attitude should be “not legally punishable,” with exceptions in cases of provably harmful activity. He agrees that it’s a serious issue but doesn’t like the idea of restricting speech, as it can get subjective quickly “without clear legal definitions and consistent enforcement.” He believes any cyberbullying law should have “extremely clear criteria for what constitutes harmful cyberbullying.”

He doesn’t believe single comments made in anger or one-off instances should be punishable except in the most extreme cases, such as encouraging a mentally unstable person to do something harmful.

Sayak also mentioned the restrictive laws in Dubai, noting you can even get arrested for “flipping the bird.” He doesn’t believe online bullying should be seen differently than other bullying. He thinks government-mandated photo IDs and profile pics should be compulsory on social media to put an end to trolls and fake accounts that create disturbances, harass, stalk, and threaten/intimidate.

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He believes “the anonymity of the Internet allows [bullies] the freedom to cross all limits.” Yet he also doesn’t believe those who taunt, insult, swear, or hurl abuses should be risking arrest.

Philbelieves it should be punished like any other crime, “appropriately and proportionately.” He does believe behavior on social media should be punished if you step over the line yet realizes that limits freedom. But “the other trouble is if you give everyone total freedom, then you let the hate in with the joy.” He thinks it should be a matter of platforms and not the law.

Fabio is fine with online bullies doing jail time. You should be free to say what you want, “but there are things you should never say.”

Simon believes “it should come under the same regulations as any other form of verbal abuse.”If it comes up that someone verbally abused someone two years ago, and new evidence supports that, that person should be punished, and the same should go for old bullying Facebook posts. “It’s a reminder on how everything we do online can be like etching words in stone.”

For me a lot of it comes down to intention, whether the person intended to be hurtful. Just like there are varying degrees, at least in the U.S., for killing another person, harming them with words should have the same varying degrees (but not the same punishments). First degree murder, second degree murder, manslaughter, unintentional manslaughter, etc. Why not have something similar for bullying?

Did that woman really wish her husband dead? What was her intention in calling that woman a horse? There are times when teens bully another online by saying they are so ugly, they should just die. And that other person then commits suicide. That’s intent. But just saying, “Hey, you’re ugly,” is deplorable, but it shouldn’t get the same punishment.

Your Opinion

How do you feel about online bullying? Should it be punishable? Do you think you should get in trouble for two-year-old statements made on Facebook? Should it lead to jail time?

How should online bullying be punished?

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