Cyber-bullying has been in the spotlight for quite some time now, and the movement to make people – and especially teenagers – aware of the negative and harmful effects of the 21st century bullying is spreading like wild fire.
In Sweden, two teenage girls aged 15 and 16, have felt the consequences of cyber-bullying after they were found guilty of defamation on Tuesday. The teenagers went on their bullying spree by posting vulgar, sexual insults about their peers on the popular photo sharing website, Instagram.
The girls were convicted for writing explicit, derogatory remarks next to pictures of 38 other young people, mostly girls, via an anonymous account on Instagram.
The Instagram account was opened in December 2012, and, as with most cyber-bulling cases, the malicious comments quickly spread throughout the internet before the account was eventually shut down. In March of this year, Instagram announced that it had over 10 million users.
The plaintiffs provided screen shots of the derogatory remarks as evidence while forensic evidence tied the girls to the account.
What the young girls thought to be a (horrible) practical joke, quickly went south as hundreds of young people took the streets of Gothenburg, the girls’ hometown, to protest. These protest eventually turned violent.
Cyber-bullying has become an increasing concern, especially among teenagers. 10 years ago, young kids or teenagers would tease and insult each other face to face. Nowadays, with the growth of social media, and an over-exposure to the internet, young people are becoming more and more nasty as they feel they can hide behind the mask of anonymity.
However, these Swedish girls’ fate aims to prove a point. A lawyer in this case said that the girls’ convictions shows that even though you believe you are anonymous, by posting defamatory comments or pictures, you may still be prosecuted.
“Many think they are anonymous when they are sitting behind a computer and therefore take greater liberties than if that anonymity wasn’t there,” the plaintiffs’ attorney, Arash Raoufi, said.
The girls, one of whom had confessed to being behind the account while the other denied involvement, were both fined and one was also sentenced to community service.
Cyber-bullying is a real problem in our day and age and many cases prove to be more vicious than ‘real-life’ bullying. Mr. Raoufi continued and said: “The verdict sends a signal to young people and society that this indignity culture cannot be allowed to exist. I hope it will also result in parents being more alert to what kids do at the computer”
And we fully agree.