Breaking Down Michigan’s New Cyberbullying Laws

 

Like most states, Michigan already has cyberbullying laws in place. The laws currently in place state that each school district has to have a policy against cyberbullying. However, those laws are specific to schools, and their students. Cyberbullying can happen outside of schools and to individuals who have been out of schoo for many years. This new law actually makes cyberbullying a crime and gives law enforcement a way to enforce anti-cyberbullying laws against people who aren’t students or when students do this outside of school and off of school grounds. It also covers if the behavior is committed using a telecommunications access device, or if the telecommunications service provider is owned by or under the control of the school district.

Michigan lawmakers took action to fight cyberbullying last year, and the law took effect at the end of 2018.

 

These new laws were largely put into motion because of the tragic loss of Zoe Johnson , a 13-year-old Michigan girl . Her mother believes she committed suicide after being bullied and taunted by classmates on Facebook. At the time, police said the social media posts did not indicate criminal wrongdoing.

 

“Cyberbullying can cause just as much trauma as traditional bullying so it’s important that it be considered a crime,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, in a statement. 

 

Part of Michigan’s anti-bullying laws is giving a definition of bullying and cyberbullying:

Stopbullying.gov, states that, “Bullying” means any written, verbal, or physical act, or any electronic communication, including, but not limited to, cyberbullying, that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

“Cyberbullying” means any electronic communication that is intended or that a reasonable person would know is likely to harm 1 or more pupils either directly or indirectly by doing any of the following:

   (i) Substantially interfering with educational opportunities, benefits, or programs of 1 or more pupils.

   (ii)  Adversely affecting the ability of a pupil to participate in or benefit from the school district’s or public school’s educational programs or activities by placing the pupil in reasonable fear of physical harm or by causing substantial emotional distress.

   (iii) Having an actual and substantial detrimental effect on a pupil’s physical or mental health.

   (iv) Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with, the orderly operation of the school.

 

Major Win for Feminists Majority Foundation in case against the University of Mary Washington.

Yik Yak, a popular app used by College students in 2014, was under fire when members of the student group Feminists United say they were subjected to cyberbullying, cyberstalking and threats of sexual assault after they spoke out against Greek life on campus and against a distasteful chant the rugby team was recorded singing. Harassment came largely via Yik Yak, a now-defunct social media tool that used geotargeting to allow people on campus to make comments anonymously about others on the campus. In this case, the harassment was not the kind of mocking of feminists that is omnipresent online, but specific threats of violent acts, accompanied by the whereabouts of members of Feminists United, who were identified by name.

Yik Yak was a social media smartphone application that was launched in 2013. It was available for iOS and Android and it allowed people to create and view discussion threads anonymously within a 5-mile radius.

The jury found that officials at Yik Yak could and should have done more to protect students from online harassment.

The incident happened back in 2014 and 2015 and the case was dismissed last years after a Judge found that because the harassment took place on a platform that the University of Mary Washington had very little control over. The group also brought the issue at hand up as aTitle XI case, the Judge also said, “Title IX does not require the school to meet specific demands of its students “.

The case was taken to appellate court where the court ruled 2 to 1 on Wednesday that feminist students who sued the University of Mary Washington for failing to protect them from anonymous online harassment were entitled to pursue their lawsuit. The decision reversed a ruling by a lower court to throw out the lawsuit on First Amendment and other grounds.

This is not the first time the App has been found in the middle of controversy. Yik Yak’s image problems seemed to stem from its reliance on anonymous posts and the few solutions that were available to curtail racist, sexist, aggressive or threatening language.  The app faced a barrage of public image problems, as the platform became known for issues like cyberbullying due to the anonymous nature of user posts. Many high schools used geofences to ban Yik Yak from its campuses and there were several cases of the police subpoenaing Yik Yak after threats were made on the app. With its poor public image, Yik Yak failed to find any substantial advertisers and couldn’t find a sustainable business model.

 

In this case, the school was found to be negligent but many think the app is to blame for not having stricter guidelines and policies.

 

Published by GetnSocial

The Familiar Face of a Cyberbully

 

When we think about cyberbullies, the face that often comes to mind is that of a stranger: this hooded figure, prowling the internet, searching for someone they can attack, belittle, and damage online. They are a faceless, nameless person who believes that by remaining anonymous online, their identity can never be discovered. And even if you were to discover their true identity, it would come as no surprise that the culprit was the mean girl, the egotistical jock, or the school bully.

 

Unfortunately, this is not the case for many cyberbullying victims. The attacker has a face – one the victim is all too familiar with. According to a 2016 study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA), “the likelihood of cyberbullying [is] approximately seven times greater between current or former friends and dating partners than between young people who had neither been friends nor had dated.” Your cyberbully could very well be your best friend. While this may be a very hard pill to swallow, the fact that girls were twice as likely as boys to fall victim to cyberbullying, is less shocking.

 

Diane Felmlee, a professor of sociology at Pennsylvania State University and the lead author of the study, explains why friends and former partners are so often times the perpetrators of these online attacks and rumors.

 

“Friends, or former friends, are particularly likely to find themselves in situations in which they are vying for the same school, club, and/or sport positions and social connections…young people often have resentful and hurt feelings as a result of a breakup, and they may take out these feelings on a former partner via cyber aggression.”

 

Knowing the perpetrator of the attack is someone so close to them can also impact a victim’s decision to come forward and report the bullying. Even more challenging is figuring out how to deal with the situation, as acting out in retaliation is exactly what the bullying is looking for from you. As is with any case of bullying, friend or foe, the best and hardest thing for the victim to do is walk away – not just from the attacks and the rumors, but from the relationship as a whole.

 

In the 2011 ABC Family movie “Cyberbully,” the main character Taylor, played by actress Emily Osment, learns this lesson the hard way. In the film, Taylor is terrorized by her classmates’ constant horrible comments, all of which were sparked by one rumor started by a boy Taylor met online. It is later revealed that Taylor’s best friend Samantha, played by Kay Panabaker, created the boy’s fake profile and started the rumor.

 

When you pull the cord to reveal the person behind the curtain, be prepared for who you might find. If you or someone you know is a victim of cyberbullying, or someone you know is the perpetrator, please tell a trusted adult.

 

Published by GetnSocial

Timothée Chalamet and Harry Styles Talk Ups and Downs of Social Media

The British magazine, i-D, recently published a conversation between Harry Styles and Timoth̩e Chalamet, with Harry Styles Рsinger, songwriter, actor, and former One Direction bandmate Рstepping into the role of interviewer. Chalamet, an Oscar-nominated American actor, becomes the one who is quizzed by the musician. Touching on a wide range of topics, the duo divulge information about their lives, how masculinity has evolved, and their stances on social media.

Styles started off by stating, “I think that’s the main positive of social media,” when referring to the many more ways for us to engage. He followed with, “There’s also a lot that I find super dangerous about social media…On a personal level, I feel a noticeable change in how happy I am when I?m not on social media.” Perhaps taking his advice and staying away from social media is something everyone can benefit from. Social media cleanses are very popular.

Many celebrities have taken breaks from Instagram and Twitter in a very public way. SNL comedian Pete Davidson deleted his Instagram after people voiced negative opinions about his whirlwind romance and engagement to singer-songwriter Ariana Grande. Millie Bobby Brown, the 14-year-old “Stranger Things” actress, deleted her Twitter account too, after becoming a homophobic meme. Actress and singer Selena Gomez recently posted to Instagram with her caption…

Update: taking a social media break. Again. As much as I am grateful for the voice that social media gives each of us, I am equally grateful to be able to step back and live my life present to the moment I have been given. Kindness and encouragement only for a bit! Just remember- negative comments can hurt anybody’s feelings. Obvi.

Styles pointed out similar findings, “I’m very aware that if you go on social media, and look, you can find whatever you’re looking for. If you’re looking for bad comments, you’re going to find bad comments. But people still do it. It’s like this weird self-torture.” This is something most people can relate to. If you go fishing for compliments, you will get them: if you look for hate, it will find you. Unfortunately, that is what social media has become.

Chalamet and Styles didn’t stick to only bashing social media, however. Mentioning the Arab Spring, new ways to connect, sharing news, and becoming involved were just a few of the benefits that can be reaped by maintaining a presence online. It just goes to show that even the famous and talented feel the toll that social media can sometimes bring.

Published by GetnSocial