Cyber bullying.

     Cyber-bullying has been a hot topic for years and in the day an age of every increasing social media it is important to take a step back and try to remember that the people we converse with on the internet are humans, much like ourselves, trying to live their lives.

     So, what exactly is cyber-bullying? Well, it is threats, harassment, relentless verbal assault that is harmful to those involved and could have potential actions. I don’t claim this as a definitive definition, but it is pretty spot on.

     So, who can be cyber harassed? Well, that is a tricky question. We know that those who put themselves out there in the public eye, celebrities and politicians, that we have the ability to dissect their lives with little recourse. Granted, even celebrities can still be harassed, but things like criticism, memes and the like are normally considered fair game.

     Stalking is one thing that most people, regardless of being in the public eye or not, have recourse with. Obviously protection is a necessity in most of our lives and no one should feel threaten. How threatened can you feel from an online discussion, though? There have been many stories of young teens killing themselves from brutal taunting from bullies online. Are adults susceptible to such, though? Obviously anyone can be hurt, even by such innocuous things as words, but would adults care more about peer ostracizing more so than teens? I don’t have the answer to this question, but tormenting is tormenting.

     Criticizing a public official or anyone in the public eye, is not stalking or harassment, though.

     Anytime you put something out in a public sphere, and disregard taking proper precautions to impede individuals, whom you do not want to see your post, the ability to see them, you are at fault. Pay close attention to Facebook’s privacy policy and settings. Is it checked for only friends to see it? Does it say “Public”?

     If it says public, this allows anyone who should happen across your page the ability to see things you wouldn’t want them to see. You also have access to the block feature, so that you can block certain individuals from accessing your page. If you are truly a victim of harassment, you have the power the prevent it. If such precautions are not preventing the individual from contacting you or getting to you, if they are still looking for ways to contact you, then you might have a stalking and harassment claim. Maine stature doesn’t factor in Facebook, only things that happen off the internet. It may be time for an overhaul when it comes to statues to better factor in the internet and take those cases into account, but it needs to be for more than having thin skin in the public eye.

     Remember, at the end of the day, the best thing you can do is say “Hey, is this something I want people to see?” If the answer is no, it is perhaps best not to post it to Facebook. Recourse for your actions is not stalking or harassment, it is your fault. People taking a screen cap of your negative actions are not harassment. You have the right to say what you want, but you are not sheltered by the consequences of those actions. Good or bad, they are yours and the responsibility lies with you.

     Keep this in mind as you wade through the muck that is the internet. It should go without saying by now, but it appears as if it needs to be mentioned again, from time to time.

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