Ethical Debates in Connected Culture 2019/Printable version

Ethical Debates in Connected Culture 2019

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Privacy 1: The Private Sphere


How is social media affecting the private sphere?Edit

Facebook has been scrutinised for its questionable security of user privacy

A new digital era has emerged, whereby digital technologies have transformed the way we communicate, interact and think as individuals and as a society. [1] According to Zizi Papacharissi, digital technologies have created a 'virtual sphere' melting geographical boundaries and political constraints, and that the high potential of these digital platforms has questioned the traditional meanings of a private sphere and a public sphere. The private and public boundaries have now become blurred, as digital media users now are publishing their private life into these public digital media platforms - thus, creating a new 'virtual world'. [2]

With technological innovations, users online are able to interact with other people, create, redistribute or exchange information and opinions, and also express themselves in virtual communities. All these means of interaction, along with the exchange of user-generated content, are referred to as 'social media'. [3] With the enjoyment of using social media for many prolific reasons, come some challenges as well, especially use and misuse of private information. Thus, in this chapter we will provide information and research on the individual self on social media and explore whether private information is actually private.

The rise of social media platforms and the number of users has also impacted politics, it has changed the way campaigns are designed and run and how individuals interact with relevant political actors and consume political information. Social media has created a cost-effective and data-rich platform for political actors to monitor and influence their citizens, through having the ability to gather user data and create targeted messaging and reach millions of citizens simultaneously, having a great impact on their ultimate decisions. Political actors are now able to create their own social media pages and build their images to the wider public, sharing their political ideologies and views, undermining the people's democracies. Simultaneously, users now have a platform to voice their own political beliefs to engage more and more with the political process and connect with like-minded users from all around the world. According to author Langdon Winner, social network sites revitalise democratic society, enabling citizens to command the political and economic resources needed to become effectively self-governing. [4] However, although social media provides a public space for people to voice their opinions and beliefs, political parties may manipulate such opinions through targeted advertisements served specifically to sway the people’s beliefs. Therefore, this gives rise to the question: What if our political opinions are not really our own?

The following chapter will focus on the different effects of social media on the private sphere. Using the Cambridge Analytica scandal as a case study, we will be looking at how social media, namely Facebook, affects the private sphere at an individual level and at a political level to address these concerns.

Main DiscussionEdit

The Private LifeEdit

Is our private information private?Edit

Nowadays it is not about on and off. We live in a world where being networked to people and information wherever and whenever you need it is just assumed. [5] Even if we are not physically online or surfing on the Internet, we are always connected to the network, and that is what it means to be always-on. This concept of always-on is influencing the private sphere on social media. We receive information through social media constantly every single day. For example, messages from your friends and family, important milestones, political debates, or catastrophic events from around the world. People react to these pieces of information and a lot of them tend to overshare their opinions and thoughts. Each time you post on social media, you reveal a little bit more about yourself, who you are what you like, or maybe even where you live. Because of all of this, the line between the public sphere and the private sphere is very thin, almost see-through. Recently, Facebook gave people the option to make their profile and information more private with better and stronger privacy settings. However, the extent to which users are able to change their settings so that they reflect their preferences arguably also depends on their level of skill in understanding and modifying the relevant settings. [6] danah boyd and Eszter Hargittai found that it may appear that all is fine regarding related issues on Facebook since many young adult users are actively managing their profile’s public access. [6] However, they don't know to which extent the users understand the implemented changes or if it matches their preferences.

Facebook Privacy Settings

After reading boyd, Turkle and Pariser’s work, there is clear evidence that users on social media have a false sense of the security of their private information. People usually have the feeling of anonymity and lack of social responsibility that often develops from using text-centred telecommunications, and ends with oversharing on social media. The information then can be used by people you don't know, for example, for identity theft or stalking.

Anxiety is part of the new connectivity. [7] Many people have a fear of missing out and can't put their phone or computer down and stop scrolling through social media. Many people, however, also have anxiety over their privacy. Technology and anxieties are very closely related. Technology helps us manage life stress but generates anxieties of its own. [7] Sherry Turkle interviews many young people who explain their anxieties and fears over social media. They explain how all the things they say on social media are recorded and stay on the Internet, how careful they must be and how they write personal information to a diary rather than talking about it with friends on social media.

How is data being used/misused?Edit

The web we navigate navigates us. For example, Google tracks our searches, engineering personalised results, which are tailored to our supposed needs. Facebook aggregates our likes, login times, and other metrics to target advertisements. Amazon has built a digital empire on its alchemy of stored consumer behaviour, purchase correlation research, and predictive marketing. [8] Since the information we receive, especially on social media, is tailored in a way that validates our beliefs and opinions, can we say that our opinions are really our own? A lot of personal information is mishandled behind our browser's digital veil. The matrix of engineers, market demographers, and data aggregators are contracted third parties to our trusted hosts; they are not contractually bound to the same privacy standards that Facebook consented to in 2010. [8] The ubiquity of data gathering on social media platforms is aimed at personalising experiences and optimising sales, ultimately affecting our culture in shaping the global economy, the flow of ideas, and access to information.

A useful example of the misuse of information on social media is the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica collected individual data from Facebook and developed the ability to micro-target individual consumers or voters with messages most likely to influence their behaviour. [9] This micro-targeting was used to sway votes during Donald Trump’s electoral campaign. Thus the following question is raised: Were those Trump supporters actually true supporters? Or were their opinions 'encoded' in their heads? Privacy has well served our modern notions of intimacy and democracy. Without privacy, the borders of intimacy blur. [7]

The Political LifeEdit

Social media as a tool for political actorsEdit
Donald Trump

As mentioned earlier, some of the main impacts of social media on politics is the ability of these political actors to collect the data of their citizens, including demographics, browsing activities and previous voting or political engagement activities. In this way, they identify their targeted audiences and create targeted messaging to directly engage with the citizens and broadcast political messages to the masses simultaneously.

Thus far, data collection is one of the most prevalent uses of social media by political actors for their benefit, whereby user data and behaviour trends are monitored and collected by all the big technology giants that individuals widely use online, these include Google, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. User data is categorised into specific groups in relation to demographics, psychographics, political beliefs and so on, which then in return is used by political actors to design their campaigns accordingly. One of the most recent examples of this phenomenon is the not so long ago scandal of Cambridge Analytica and Donald Trump's campaign victory, which will be elaborated in more detail in the following section of this chapter.

Social media as a tool for the publicEdit
#MeToo social movement protest

Not only did the rise of social media platforms impact the success of political actors, but it also provided an effective tool for individuals to create political change and influence the political decisions of their followers and create social change across the world. According to independent educational UK charity Demos, in 2018, nearly two-thirds of young people (64%) see social media platforms as an essential part of achieving social change, and over half of 35-50 year olds agree (55%). [10] Social media has made it easier for users to engage with politics and social issues, as it has provided a platform to practice their freedom of speech and in most cases catalyse social change and at most times change the course of history.

Over the years, we have witnessed social change around the world through the power of the people and social media platforms. A new wave of online activists emerged and facilitated social movements and political awareness. Some of the most prevalent examples of social change catalysed by social media platforms include the Arab Spring, which was a series of anti-government protests that took place in the early 2010s around the Middle East. Another example includes the #MeToo social movement, sparked in 2006, on social media against sexual harassment and sexual assault which has gained global momentum in recent years. The decentralised nature of social movements on social media has made them very effective in terms of wide accessibility and the power to share messages and reach wider audiences all over the world, facilitating transnational communication and mobilising global action. Furthermore, social media also empowers users to urge new activations in a horizontal civic space in comparison to the constraints of traditional means. [11]. Thus, we may look at social media in both a positive and negative light in relation to democracy and politics. Yet, in relation the the private sphere, social media gives rise to serious privacy concerns as mentioned earlier and shall be explored in further detail below.

Case Study: The Cambridge Analytica ScandalEdit

Who was Cambridge Analytica?Edit

According to its former website, Cambridge Analytica sold itself as a political consulting firm for electoral campaigns. The company would source relevant online data to create key messages designed to target specific audiences with the goal of influencing their attitudes and behaviours to win votes, appealing to the client’s demands. Cambridge Analytica’s questionable services raised alarms in early 2018, when it was discovered that the little-known consulting firm covertly collected personal data from more than 50 million Facebook user profiles which they used to influence and manipulate target groups through specially designed advertisements. [12] Subsequently, Facebook’s data practices were also heavily attacked. [13] [14]

What went wrong?Edit

Christopher Wylie at a Cambridge Analytica protest

In March of 2018, the New York Times and The Observer published candid interviews with a whistle-blower named Christopher Wylie. The former director of research at Cambridge Analytica detailed the firm’s data mining practices, including the mass harvesting of millions of Facebook user profiles. Wylie also leaked information relating to Donald Trump’s electoral campaign, saying that the company played a key role in manipulating Facebook users into voting for the presidential candidate. [15] Through Trump's victory, Cambridge Analytica’s efforts were successful. [16]

Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data from over 50 million Facebook users through a specially built app. [13] [17] [12] Normally, when an app user gives consent to the collection of personal data, the app will only collect the information of that one user. However, it was revealed that this particular app collected the personal information of the user and their Facebook friends without them knowing. More than 270,000 individual people used the app. Facebook received enormous criticism for this, facing major questions surrounding the misuse of personal data. [18] [19] Cambridge Analytica then used this enormous pool of data to target potential Trump voters through the use of persuadable advertisements, using tailored creative content to send their messages across. [13]

The after-mathEdit

The Cambridge Analytica scandal sparked serious concerns amongst millions of Facebook users. People became increasingly sceptical of the ways in which their personal information was being collected and given away. [19] More than a year later, the scale of the issue has not diminished. The repercussions of the scandal have given rise to questions relating to online privacy, as well as questions relating to control of information.

Discussion and ConclusionsEdit

Social media and the private lifeEdit

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

According to published literature, as social network sites mature, it is becoming increasingly difficult to treat the public and private spheres as separate. This is because the line between the two spheres is largely unclear. [20] [21] Literature asserts that there was a time in which the public and private sphere were easily distinguishable, and therefore considered to be dichotomous. However, as a result of social network sites, the boundaries between the public and private spheres are blurred. [22] [23] [24] [25] This relates heavily to the notion of always-on, as identified earlier.

According to boyd, [5] being always-on is not just about consumption and production of content but also about creating an ecosystem in which people can stay peripherally connected to one another through a variety of micro-data. It’s about creating networks and layering information on top. Thus, each time we carry out an action online, including every click, like, tag, message and more, we hand-over personal information about ourselves to the organisations that run such platforms, thereby blurring the line between the public and private sphere even further. In addition, as outlined earlier, Turkle [7] identifies anxiety as part of the new connectivity, which is a result of the looming uncertainty felt surrounding the security and privacy of personal information online. The Cambridge Analytica scandal demonstrates such anxieties: People reacted by deleting their Facebook accounts as a form of protest through the #DeleteFacebook campaign. [26] [27] It voiced the worldwide concerns of a public who felt that digital environments have become more involved with financial goals rather than the privacy and care of their users.

Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mark Zuckerberg announced a series of changes intended to make Facebook a more secure and private platform. However, no matter how many new privacy features the social media giant introduces, user information still remains highly valuable to such organisations. [8] According to Opsahl, when Facebook started it was a private space for communication with a group of your choice. Soon, it transformed into a platform where much of your information is public by default. Today, it has become a platform where you have no choice but to make certain information public, and this public information may be shared by Facebook with its partner websites and used to target ads. [28] In this way, the user becomes to product, not the customer, [29] whereby users seem to be airing much of their ‘private’ lives in the ‘public’ realm. [25] This is how Facebook and other social network sites are able to provide a free service: they collect user information which is then used by advertisers to run targeted and personalised campaigns. [8]

Social media and the political lifeEdit

It is evident that social media could be used as a tool by both political parties and individuals to both undermine and empower democracy. According to Tucker et al., social media have often been described as the site for conflict between 'good' democratic forces who use social media to make their voices heard and 'bad' autocratic and repressive forces who aim to censor this channel to silence these liberal elements. [30]

However, the rise of personalisation raises many concerns relating to politics in the private sphere. Pariser states that the more personalised the content we receive becomes, the less democratic our society becomes. [8] According to Wetherell, the right to vote comes with a right to a unique political opinion. [31] The personalisation of online content takes that away from us, as was the case with Cambridge Analytica during Donald Trump’s electoral campaign.

According to Dahlgren, in a democracy, individuals may interact with one another and communicate their interests freely, including their political stance. [32] This definition assumes that our political interests and opinions are formed through an unrestricted flow of information. Yet, the Cambridge Analytica scandal prompts the following question: What if our political opinions are not really our own?

According to Pariser, democracy requires citizens to see things from one another’s point of view, but instead we're more and more enclosed in our own bubbles. [8] In response to the ever-increasing flow of information in today’s digital world, information is no longer a “pull” phenomenon but a “push” one. We don’t go to it, it comes to us. [33] In other words, it is media organisations, such as Facebook and Google, that determine the kind of content we are exposed to as users through the personalisation of content. As a result, these platforms create a unique world of information for each of us. This is what Pariser refers to as the filter bubble:[8] an online world in which users are exposed to other people who are similar to themselves, and content that reinforces their existing interests. In this way, the filter bubble can be used describe the effects personalisation of content is having on democracy within our society as it fundamentally alters the way we encounter ideas and information. [8]

This is exactly why the news surrounding Cambridge Analytica quickly became a scandal: because the political consulting company used the data it harvested from millions of Facebook users to serve political advertisements that would benefit the Trump electoral campaign, either by reinforcing users’ political opinions, or steering them to start thinking differently. Thus, the information being served to these users was filtered in a way that would ultimately manipulate their vote. Therefore, it can be argued that the collection of data in today’s world may result in major social consequences, giving rise to ethical considerations surrounding the privacy of our personal data and our right to a free opinion.


Offence and Antisocial Communications


The 21st century is called “the Information Era” and the mass of network information has provided a lot of convenience for the majority of Internet users. However, it is undeniable that netizens are not only enjoying the convenience of network information but also suffering from the distress caused by bad network information. [34]As Manuel Castells stated in the book Mobile Communication and Society, the rapid development of network information technology not only brings convenience to Internet users, but also has hidden dangers. All kinds of network crimes damage the rights and interests of Internet users such as personal life and property. [35]For example, in recent decades, social media has become an important carrier of youth violence and has greatly changed the pattern of violence. Cyber crime has caused great damage to Internet users in terms of property, privacy and spirit. Effective governance of cyber crime is urgent.
To improve the governance mechanism of network illegal behavior, firstly, it is necessary to discuss the definition of network crime, the causes of network crime, the characteristics of network crime and the types of network crime. And then try to put forward effective measures to control network crime, so as to create a safe and convenient network communication environment.
Damaging network communication behavior can be roughly divided into the following three parts, their damages increases from top to bottom are:
1.Dissemination of cyber violence and discriminatory information
2.Antisocial games on social media
3.Terrorist Propaganda on Social Media

In the next part, we will try to explore the different negative effects of immoral and illegal information on individuals and the society, and try to analyze its characteristics and causes, so as to put forward feasible suggestions to reduce the harm caused by malignant network information.

Main DiscussionEdit

Dissemination of cyber violence and discriminatory informationEdit

Definition and overviewEdit

Cyber violence is a form of violence with extensive harm and bad influence. It is a kind of behavior phenomenon of publishing harmful, insulting and inflammatory words, words, pictures and videos on the Internet, that is, using words, words, pictures and videos to attack others on the Internet, which is commonly called "network violence". Internet violence can cause reputation damage to the parties, and it has broken the moral bottom line, often accompanied by infringement and illegal criminal behavior, it is urgent to use education, moral constraints, legal means to regulate.
Internet violence is the violent behavior of netizens on the Internet and the extension of social violence on the Internet. It is different from the physical violence in real life, but with the help of the virtual space of the network with language to hurt and slander people. These vicious remarks, pictures and videos are often published by netizens of a certain scale, because some of the comments posted on the Internet violate human public morality and traditional values and touch the bottom line of human morality. These languages have evil, words, pictures, video, vitriolic, and other basic characteristics of cruel, are beyond the scope for normal comment on these events, the party in the event not only for personal attacks, malicious slander, more will this damage behavior from the virtual network to the real society, the event is to carry on the "human flesh search", will be the true identity, name, photo, details such as personal privacy. These comments and practices not only seriously affected the mental state of the parties, but also disrupted their work, study and life order, and even caused serious consequences.

Classification of cyber violenceEdit

Cyber violence is mainly manifested in the following three forms:
1.Netizens publish false and harmful, insulting and inflammatory remarks on the Internet about unverified or verified Internet incidents, thus causing damage to the reputation of the parties concerned.
Even more serious, to the parties and their friends and relatives of the normal life of action and speech intrusion, resulting in the loss of their personal rights. Internet violence about irrational human flesh search is everywhere, and the movie “Caught in the Web” well reflects this problem. [36]The movie is about the cyber violence caused by the “give up your seat” incident on the bus. The heroine in the movie was so devastated by her sudden diagnosis of cancer, and then on the way to her home she forgot to offer her seat to an old man on the bus, it was filmed video on the network, resulting in group decision, on the network attack by means of written words, images, human flesh search engine and network violence will eventually tying into early death. In many cases, netizens habitually take sides with those who think they are just and judge others with moral force. However, they do not know that in this process, they act as executioners, but fail to make their own judgment to distinguish the truth. However, the way to trigger Internet violence through human flesh search and ultimately hurt the parties is very inadequate, and no one has the right to use moral power to judge others.
2.Disclose the personal privacy of the parties in real life on the Internet and violate their privacy.
An earlier example was a 22-year-old South Korean schoolgirl whose face had been altered when photos of her appeared on a photo-sharing website in 2006. After seeing the photos, her friends called her repeatedly to confirm the situation. There are many privacy issues on the Internet, which can cause serious harm to the victims.
3.Network prejudice mainly focuses on racial discrimination and prejudice.
[37]Researchers believe that online racial discrimination includes the phenomenon of derogating or excluding an individual due to racial issues expressed by symbols, sounds, images, texts and geographical representations. Online racial discrimination can occur in social networking sites, chat rooms, BBS, web pages, text messages, online songs, online videos and online games. One experiment, for example, showed white college students black, white and robot avatars on a computer and asked them to choose which one they liked. The results showed that the majority of white college students chose white avatars, and they preferred to use white avatars as their online gaming partners and virtual coaches. In particular, white students with high racial prejudice had a significantly higher preference for robots than black students. [38]This study shows that cyberspace has become another place for racial discrimination. Another study on online racial discrimination showed that the depression and anxiety of individuals subject to online racial discrimination would increase significantly, and the harm to women would be especially serious.

Causes of FormationEdit

There are many root causes of Internet violence, one is the anonymity of Internet users, so there is a lack of legal system and moral constraints on the Internet; the other is the low quality of some Internet users; the third is the lag of the rule of law and spiritual civilization construction in the society itself. The virtuality of the network enables participants to conceal or fabricate their identities, which makes the norms and constraints that should be observed in real life lose their due binding force. This is undoubtedly a paradise of freedom for some netizens who are not impulsive and indulgent.

Prevention and control measures Prevention and control measuresEdit

Network is a virtual world, but also a parallel with the real world, integration of the real world;With the openness, interactivity and anonymity of the Internet, it is easy for some netizens’ irresponsible words and deeds to turn into cyber violence, which infringes on the privacy rights and other legitimate rights of the parties concerned and causes great mental and psychological harm to them. Therefore, the whole society must attach great importance to it. Experts believe that prevention and control network violence must be combined, comprehensive prevention and control. Through effective publicity and education, it is necessary to improve the moral self-discipline consciousness of Internet users, especially the majority of young people, enhance their ability of discrimination, choice and immunity to vulgar culture, cultivate a healthy mentality and sound personality, and advocate civilized and responsible network behavior in the whole society. Relevant functional departments should speed up the legislative research on the protection of personal information, introduce relevant regulations and systems as soon as possible, intensify the punishment according to law, regulate people's network behavior through legal means, and purify the network environment.

Antisocial games on social mediaEdit

Definition of antisocial gamesEdit

If we define antisocial games on social networks as cyber violence or obscene games, then we ignore its harm, because the two are entirely different. We tend to overestimate the harm of cyber violence games. It is difficult to define whether violent online games are harmful. Some scholars have stated that video games involving negative content such as violence, gore, and obscenity have no direct correlation with juvenile delinquency. [39]Patrick and other statistics from 2007 to 2011 The relationship between game sales and crime rate, it is found that when the game sales increase, the number of violent cases during the same period has also decreased significantly. This phenomenon is particularly apparent when well-known obscene and violent games such as "Grand Theft Auto" are released. Compared to the harm of online games Difficult to define, antisocial games mean complete crimes. Antisocial games that rely on social network transmission exist in the form of organizations. All players are members of the organization. It controls players with thought control or threats of violence. So once players enter the game, it is difficult for them to get out. At present, no scholars define antisocial games In a way, antisocial games are a cult that controls people's minds. They rely on social media to continually develop new players. The setter of the game plays the role of God. Other participants were both criminals and victims. We can understand its dangers and characteristics from a typical case.

A typical case study: "blue whale gamesEdit
what is the blue whale gameEdit

[40] "Blue Whale", also known as "Blue Whale Death Game", "Blue Whale Challenge", and "Wake Me Up at 4:20", is a social network game originating in Russia and has now spread to many countries. [41] The reason why the blue whale game is named "Blue Whale" may be related to the behaviour of the blue whale stranding suicide. Like many ordinary games, players of the blue whale game need to upgrade by completing various tasks until the game is completed. The difference is that the “Final Victory ” of the blue whale game means the end of the player's life.[42]The game administrator declared that "the best things in life start with the Russian letter 'С',-семья ́ (family), суббо ́ а (Saturday), секс (sex), and самоуби ́йство (suicide)" and they tried to manipulate the players undefined minds, which is similar to the brainwashing of some cults."Blue Whale" game participants are usually required to post blue whale patterns on their social network platforms, or even Use a sharp weapon to draw a blue whale pattern on the body. Participants are required to provide picture or video evidence each time they complete the task. After 50 days, in order to prove "win the game", participants will be asked to commit suicide [43]Russian police are investigating the relevance of the "Blue Whale" game to 130 suicide teenagers who occurred in Russia between November 2015 and April 2016, all of the members of the same Internet community. [44] On May 10, 2017, Philip Budeikin, the founder of Blue Whale Death Game, was accused of instigating at least 16 girls to participate in his blue whale suicide social media game. He told investigators that they were all "happy to die", although the founder already arrested, this "death game" has not been terminated as a result. [45]Because of its nature of spreading through the Internet, this "game" has spread from Russia to other countries, and related suicide cases have appeared [46] The United Kingdom, Argentina, Mexico and other countries have issued relevant warnings, calling on parents to pay attention to their children's online behavior. [47]One information shows that more than 200,000 people in Russia have participated in the "Blue Whale" game, and this game continues to expand to the world.

Gulf of the Farallones, California

The “tricks” of the blue whaleEdit

Blue whale games are typical of anti-social games, and there are many ways to expand and control members.
1spread using social media
Instigating suicide is not a new thing, the most traditional instigating suicide is only through face-to-face communication between two people, and the spread is minimal. The prosperity of paper media such as newspapers and books provide a new carrier for instigating suicide. In 1993, the book Complete Suicide Manual written by Wataru Tsurumi was released in Japan, and 500,000 copies were issued in just one year. However, The Internet makes the development of abetting suicide more rampant, and the timeliness of the network has dramatically enhanced the spread of the blue whale game. Social media crime is not the same as cybercrime. The former is more interactive and secretive. It is easier for managers to control new players. At the same time, social media is highly private, which involves the private sector. It is difficult for the government to monitor it, which gives the space for "blue whale" action.
2 absolute control of the player
The first is information control. The most common method is to block the player's information exchange. The Manager controls the player's time and environment, so that members do not have enough opportunities to access other information. For example, players are required to get up at 4:20 and do the task, such as watching horror movies all day, or not communicating with the outside world. So that participants are exposed to harmful or death information every day.
The second is behaviour control. The standard method is “Deindividuated”. Why some kind people on the battlefield become the villains who make the Holocaust? Why can an ordinary person become fearless and take Suicide attacks? This is often because they have lost their "individuality" in long-term brainwashing, treating themselves thoroughly as a role in the collective, and only doing this role "should do". Participants have more than once The ground was ordered to carve "blue whale" totems around his body by means of self-harm; at the same time, this totem appeared as an organizational mark in every scene of the game, which reminded the game participants "You are People in this collective role "," You are not yourself but a role ".
Finally, it is personality destruction. A standard method is [48]"Learned Helplessness" to destroy the individual's entire self-confidence system. "Learned Helplessness" refers to the act of being at the mercy of repeated failures or punishments. This theory dates back to 1967. American psychologist Seligman proposed it through animal experiments. He locked the dog in the cage, and as soon as the dog touched the cage door, he gave the dog an unbearable electric shock. After many experiments, even if he opened the cage, the dog will no longer run away, but will only curl up in a cage. Just like the desperate dog in the experiment, once the player realizes that no matter how hard he tries, he cannot change the inevitable result, he will give up all effort and showing negative emotions such as helplessness, hopelessness, and depression. Organizers raise questions from time to time to make participants doubt and deny life; crackdown on participants' self-esteem (including abuse); use naked photos to threaten participants do not quit. Participants end up in extreme depression and even suicide.

Characteristics of antisocial gamesEdit

From the typical case of Blue Whale, we can summarize the characteristics of antisocial games on social media.

strong diffusivityEdit

[49]In 1967, Stanley Milgram wanted to depict an interpersonal network linking people and communities. After an experiment, they found a "six-degree separation" phenomenon. In other words, "No more than six people will be separated from any stranger, that is, you can know any stranger through a maximum of six people. which also means that on social media, we have a high probability of being exposed to antisocial organiser. Antisocial games are not far away from us, and the development of social media gives us more access to anti-social games.


There have been beautification trends of dark things on the Internet, such as the beautification of depression, self-harm, and anorexia, which have attracted young people to follow suit. [50] In 2012, the Atlantic Magazine of the United States proposed "beautify pain" in the online community. It is believed that social platforms represented by Tumblr are portraying suicide, depression, eating disorders, and self-abandonment as beautiful, romantic, profound, and dark. Just as the blue whale game instigates suicide by beautifying pain and sacred death. Social games confuse players by shaping a pathological value and enhancing the rules of the game.

strong hiddenEdit

Strong hidden is a common feature of all cybercrimes. We can identify illegal activities in real life, but virtual communities blur the boundaries of crime. The internet is a virtual space, and the Game creators and managers often use false identities. Due to the anonymity and virtual nature of the network, it is difficult to find offenders. Due to the anonymity and virtual nature of the network, it is difficult to find offenders for us.

Cybercrime and Terrorism PropagandaEdit


Cybercrime refers to crimes committed using computers and networks.[51] It is also defined as "crimes committed against individuals or groups with criminal motives, using modern telecommunication networks such as the Internet and mobile phones, directly or indirectly damaging the reputation of the victim or causing physical or mental injury or loss."[52] With the rapid development of the Internet, the problem of cybercrime is increasingly rampant. Traditional areas of Internet crime include: hacking, copyright infringement, illegal surveillance, sexual assault, child pornography, etc.[53] In 2014, a McAfee report estimated the annual cost to the global economy at about $445 billion.[54] In 2018, A study by the Centre for strategic and international studies (CSIS) and McAfee concluded that nearly $600bn (almost 1 per cent of global GDP) was lost to cybercrime each year[55].

In recent years, the concealment and immediacy of the Internet make it an advantageous tool for criminal organizations and terrorist organizations.[56] As described in a McAfee report (2018), cybercrime is relentless. Given its low cost and high return, it seems unlikely to stop. [57].This chapter will explore two typical Internet crimes that have received close attention in recent years: Black market on dark Web and Cyberterrorism. Through the analysis of these two types of criminal activities, this chapter will explore the characteristics of Internet crime, harm and countermeasures of various countries.

Criminal Activities on the Dark WebEdit

The Internet is seen as an ideal way to spread information and propaganda. However, its open nature also provides a fast, cheap and anonymous way for criminal organizations and extremist groups to communicate. The dark web is a classic example of Internet abuse.

What is the dark web?Edit

Contrary to imagination of public, the dark web is a very small but inaccessible part of our internet. The Internet has connected a large number of computers, servers and other devices, and it has realized the cyberspace we use. However, this cyberspace is actually divided into two parts: surface web that can be accessed or searched and deep web that are difficult to access. The former is the Internet that the public is familiar with and can be accessed through search engines such as Google and Yahoo. The latter is a hidden network space for most network users, which is difficult for ordinary users to access. Deep web are considered to occupy most of the Internet space. It is estimated that deep networks are about 4,000 to 5,000 times larger than surface web.[58] Most deep cyberspace has legitimate uses. In fact, individuals often visit deep networks, such as social network accounts, network disks, and timely communication data. The dark web discussed in this section is defined as a small part of the space that is difficult to access in deep networks. It is estimated that it accounts for less than 0.01% of websites on the Internet: there are approximately 45,000 dark websites and hundreds of millions of ordinary websites.[59] The only way to access the dark web is to use a special browser, such as an onion router, which usually also requires a password. The dark web is usually anonymous, which makes it easy to become a safe haven for cybercriminals. Due to access difficulties, it remains largely unregulated by the government.Well-known networks on dark web include Freenet, Tor, and I2P.[60]

Child abuse informationEdit

Child abuse and child pornography are the largest part of dark web traffic. In a study by the University of Portsmouth, researchers observed that more than 80% of Tor's traffic requests to hidden sites were directed at known child abuse sites. [61]

Illegal tradingEdit

The drug trade is also an integral part of the black web market. The Silk Road is one of the largest and most notorious dark web markets. The site is suspected of drug trading, forged documents, hacking, stolen goods and money laundering services. American Ross William Ulbricht developed and launched the site in 2011. When the FBI shut down the site in October 2013 and arrested Ubudricht, the Silk Road has already generated more than $ 200 million in sales and Ubudricht received a commission of $ 18 million.[62] The black market on the Silk Road is largely similar to the traditional black market. Like the traditional black market, the site is not subject to economic regulation by the state government, nor is it regulated by the state government's formal legal mechanism for interference in the transaction relationship, the federal government.

Flowchart of The Silk Road's payment system, produced as evidence in the trial of its owner.
Terrorist activitiesEdit

As the jihadist movement expands globally, the use of the Internet by Islamic extremists and jihadist groups has increased. Some reports claim that thousands of jihadist sites support the ummah of these organizations and distribute recruitment videos, strategy papers, presentations, and combat computer games. Extremists watch, share, and transmit violent terrorist videos through the dark web. Chen(2011) collected the entire contents of about 300 terrorist forums (author, title, post, post, time tag, etc.) through the dark web. Researcher also perform regular updates. Some large radical websites have more than 30,000 members and publish nearly 1 million messages.This Studies have proved that the dark web has a huge role in spreading terrorist videos.[63]


Although the original intention of the construction of the dark web was not a criminal act. For example, the original purpose of the Tor network was to pass information to the US Navy. In fact, most of the traffic on the dark web was illegal.Government departments need to pay attention to dark web crimes. The legal framework is essential to support criminal investigations. In dealing with cases of child abuse websites on the dark web, current U.S. law does not seem to keep up with technological developments. The disposal of the "Silk Road" is an example of a less successful US government strategy. Despite the arrest of operator Ross Ulbricht, there has been an explosion of illegal goods on the black market since the FBI closed the Silk Road in October 2013. Multiple black market websites continue to appear, and try to further expand the size of the black market.[64]The judiciary needs to seek further strategies to strengthen the handling of illegal websites.

Terrorist Propaganda on Social MediaEdit

Since 2014, Social media has proven to be an extremely useful propaganda tool for terrorist organizations and is well-suited to the audiences it intends to target[65]. Globalized social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, allow ISIS's promotions to reach the world in real time and target those who are potential supporters.ISIS successfully used these platforms to attract a large number of extremists and their families to participate in terrorist activities. This section will explore terrorist organizations' promotion strategies on social media and possible response policies

Flag of ISIS
Seduction strategies for womenEdit

ISIS recruitment of women is considered successful. They recruited female staff and advised female supporters, including information on how to move to the Islamic State and launch terrorist attacks. Erin Marie Saltman, a Senior Counter Extremism Researcher for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), confirms that the islamic state policy has been quite successful because it creates a level of comfort in talking to another woman.Talking to women can ease people's tension.[66]The details of the case of three schoolgirls in London illustrate the power of social media to induce vulnerable young people to join ISIS.In February of 2014, Amira Abase, just 15 years old, and her friends, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and Shamima Begum, 15, took a bus to Gatwick Airport and boarded a flight to Istanbul.From there they took a bus to Turkey's border with Syria where they were met by ISIS operatives who took the girls by car into Syria.Investigators believe that Shamima, one of the three London schoolgirls, connected online via Twitter with Aqsa Mahmood.In November 2013, Aqsa Mahmood left her own moderate Muslim family and their affluent home in Glasgow, Scotland, and made her way to Syria.She was 19 years old at the time.Mahmood's family believes that Asqa was also likely radicalized online, making contacts online with others who persuaded her to join the extremists in Syria.

Seduction strategies for adolescentEdit

Recruitment policies for young people by extremist organizations are similar to those for women. ISIS is good at using social media to meet Muslim youth in Western societies, and most of them have been discriminated against.Considering that Muslim parents have limited knowledge of social media, they generally cannot interfere with their children's behavior on social media, which opens the door to Islamic State's confusion.[67]

Participatory interaction on social mediaEdit

ISIS publishes images and videos about terrorist activities and beautifying its domination through social networking sites to attract more people to join them.But that's not all. Research reveals that Islamic State has adopted participatory propaganda on social media.The Arabic program 'The Dawn of Glad Tidings' (or simply 'Dawn') developed by the organization on Twitter allowed thousands of activists to repeatedly tweet tags. This directly leads users to see the information of terrorist organizations in the first time when searching for keywords that may be related to the organization[68] Even, Islamic State supporters launched a Twitter tag # the-FridoyofSupportingsis written in Arabic, asking supporters around the world to wave flags of terrorist organizations in public, shoot movies themselves, and upload clips on social media , This tag attracted more than 20,000 mentions on Twitter[69]

Preventive solutionEdit

Blocking the accounts of terrorists on social media is doomed.Once an account is closed, another account will appear. In addition, the closure of social media accounts is also suspected of banning free speech.Blaker argue that a better option is to track accounts of terrorist groups and their members with social media platforms and ISIS, and identify groups of potential supporters that ISIS is trying to reach.Only through social networks to find out the real reason why Western Muslim groups are attracted by terrorist organizations, can we completely eliminate the foundation of terrorist organizations' publicity on social media.[70]

Concluding RemarksEdit

This section discusses behaviors of offence and antisocial communications that exist in social media and other Internet communities. This article introduces for the first time the definition and status of cybercrime and antisocial social activities. Then this article discusses three different levels of cyber-hazardous activities according to their severity. Cyber violence and discriminatory speech belong to the first level of activity. Studies show that discriminatory behavior and cyber violence are widespread in our online community. Although this level of cyber antisocial behavior remains verbal, its behavior has violated legal and moral regulations.The second level of activity mainly refers to anti-social games on social media. Such activities are often manifested by adults' deliberate misleading and mental control of underage minors, ultimately enticing them to harm themselves. Such incidents should alert the community to the online social security issues of adolescents. Finally, this article explores serious crimes on the Internet. The third section selects the illegal trading on the dark web and terrorist propaganda as cases, discusses the harmfulness of Internet crimes, and discusses possible countermeasures. We hope that through the discussion in this chapter, we will explain our analysis process and perspectives on Internet offence and anti-social communication and explore possible responses.

Reference ListEdit

Freedom of Information


The concept of the freedom of information has become heavily debated following the takeoff of social media in the late 2000's. Content that we publish online in the public domain has become scrutinised by what we can use from sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the rules around what can be published and the nature of the content we present.

The laws surrounding the use of information have become outdated thanks to the speed and ease that people can share information or media content like pictures and videos online, and now that they have become so difficult to govern given the large audience in a connected world, it’s clear that there are faults around how our information is handled online. Ways in which we see information being used and handled fall foul of the various laws in place, but given how easy it is to break them, it’s hard to see how the issues we discuss are going to be resolved.

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Our discussion will look at how free we are to use public information online for our own purposes, how we govern people who publish offensive content online, and the ways which the media have become intrusive with information deemed free to access online. We are also going to draw on various real life examples that relate to these issues and highlight the main debates that arose from the case studies referenced.

Peter Johan Lor (2007) consider the debate surrounding if we can have a knowledge society ever without the freedom to access information. He wrote:

“The question arises whether an information society and, more critically, a knowledge society can develop in the absence of freedom of access to information, freedom of expression and freedom to access the digital economy.”[71]

Now, as we approach 2020, the question can be asked differently, and ask if we can have a digital society that shares knowledge and information with an ever growing audience despite the tough questions surrounding the freedom to information posted online. The volume of information on social networking sites is forever expanding, and controlling it is only going to throw so many challenges in the way based on the issues we discuss below.

Main Discussion - Is information really free to access online?Edit


One of the major constrains of publishing information in a digital environment is that it becomes challenging to control the rights and ownership of any given information posted in a public domain. Social networking sites would be the biggest example of this, as it has become very easy to lift information from people's pages and then recycle it for another person's use or requirements.

It instantly becomes very difficult to govern who has illegally lifted content online because despite having such access to various types of information online, the number of people using said information for the wrong purposes is too big to police. There are over three billion people using social media actively [72](Investopedia, 2019), so regulating the matter of someone taking information they are not entitled to is far too loose for acts like copyright and freedom of information to be implemented correctly.

It is assumed that the person or organisation who has originally posted the content holds ownership to the information they have posted online, but most social media websites enable users to republish or share information with such ease and very quickly. That especially applies to user created content such as photos, audio files, and video files. Yet given how easily content like this is shared, it can very easily be made to look like it belongs to another user if someone was to take the information posted and use it maliciously.

The capacity for information to move quickly through various social channels bring the element of ownership into serious doubt as the information can pass through numerous outlets at a worrying pace. Charles Ess refers to this concept as "greased information" [73](Ess, 2014) and highlights the serious risk to privacy that comes attached with this matter. Given the speed at which information can travel, the ability for someone's information to be used multiple times by a separate person becomes a major risk, therefore when it comes to controlling the information you have published, it can be very hard to track where it has actually ended up.

Kardashian V MuñozEdit

One example of copyright issues causing a stir online is the fallout between Khloe Kardashian and photographer Manuel Muñoz. Khloe posted an image of herself and her sister Kourtney on her Instagram account. The incident was later taken to court in California by the photographer, and the photographer's agency sued the Khloe for using the photo without permission (Press Gazette, 2017).[74]

Kardashian, Khloe (LF)

This incident instantly throws up the question as to what is owned by who online, because by standard copyright law, the photo is rightfully under the ownership of Muñoz. However, given the freedom at which Kardashian had to share the photo on social media, and how she was able to access the picture and republish it at ease, it makes the copyright law very difficult to police with how large the audience is on social media.

If people are free to republish photographs online by retweeting or sharing images taken by photographers, the idea of taking photos without consent from online sources becomes increasing difficult to control, and given the high profile following the Kardashian’s have online, the number of people with the freedom to access the photo in question will be too difficult to prevent sharing the picture.

Lopez V Splash NewsEdit

Another example came when Jennifer Lopez used a photograph on her social media from Splash News and Picture Agency. The picture was taken in November 2017 when Lopez and her fiancé Alex Rodriguez were snapped holding hands and having breakfast in New York (USA Today, 2019).[75]

Splash sued for $150,000 in damages following the use of the picture on Lopez’s Instagram account, which currently has 102 million followers. Given that Lopez saw the picture was of herself and had been taken by paparazzi, she short sighted the copyright laws and used the picture for her own good, which given how often celebrities are snapped by press photographers, wasn’t a shock given how many have made the same mistake.

The defence of the press organisation revolved around the harm it would cause to further marketing of the images taken that day, and the case was settled in favour of Splash News. This, and the Kardashian case, highlight not only immediate adaptations to the copyright law to be made to include social networking usage, but it painted a worrying picture that showed how many celebrities could get caught in the same situation in future. Various forms of digital media are published online, and absentmindedly lifting content from other social media users and organisations is going to be a much more regular occurrence as the wealth of celebrity figures on social media continue to look for content that involves them.

Offensive Content Edit

What Defines Offensive Content?Edit

Being offensive to individuals, groups, societies, regions and countries in any forms or ways(such as images, comments and videos) are all offensive content.[76]

The extraordinary speaking opportunities are provided to a broadly-defined "speakers" by the Internet. Online users could express their opinions and make them available to worldwide audiences easier than before. (William, 2001)[77] Although the Internet has given people the freedom to express different ideas and opinions, it has also posed ethical challenges in the digital media era. Offensive language has become a big problem threatening the health of the online community and individual users.[78] For the online community, the spread of offensive language gradually destroys its reputation, dissuades users from participating, and even directly affects its development. For users, viewing offensive language can harm their mental health, especially for children and young adults. As Spinello points out, "the issue of free speech and content control in cyberspace has arguably become the most controversial moral issue of the emerging information age."

There are mainly the following difficulties in controlling and regulating the distribution of offensive content:

1. There are too many platforms for online speech, and the amount of speech is too large. With the help of network communication, network speech is widely connected to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SNSs and other platforms, connecting all corners of the world.

2. Offensive content on the Internet covers a wide range of topics, including sexism, racial discrimination, hate speech and pornographic information etc. Some information even exerts subliminal influence on users through disguise. The development of online platforms makes it difficult to distinguish the true from the false. Whether such information involves infringement requires someone with expertise to identify, and regulators sometimes cannot manage and restrain such a large group of Internet users.

3. It is challenging to obtain illegal evidence of offensive content, while the network is a virtual space, and it is difficult to obtain sufficient evidence because the evidence may be destroyed in a flash.

Elon Musk Twitter FalloutEdit

Elon Musk will face trial in December 2019

The chief executive of Tesla, Elon Musk, is set to go on trial in December 2019 after mocking British diver Vernon Unsworth by calling him a paedophile in a Twitter post on his personal account last July. He also dismissed the tech multibillionaire’s act for rescuing the football players as a "PR stunt" in an interview with CNN. Then the submarine built for a rescue mission was derided by Unsworth. Musk lashed out at Unsworth via his 22.5 million followers Twitter account just because of these comments (The Guardian, 2019).[79]

A federal court judge in Los Angeles set an Oct. 22 trial date, that rejected the Tesla chief executive's attempts to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Unsworth. Musk claimed his insult was not protected by law, but the judge in charge of the case disagreed. Los Angeles district judge Stephen Wilson said the jury would decide whether Musk's allegations against the diver in 2018 constituted defamation. Wilson ruled that the case must be heard in December.

The comments came as a shock to many on social media given the heroic efforts Unsworth and his team went to to save the football team from the cave after they became trapped when heavy rainfall flooded the entrance to the cave and trapped the youngsters. However, given the way social networking sites like Twitter allow you to share whatever messages you like, Musk was in far too easy a position to defame Unsworth. That's where we look to organisations like Twitter to police this behaviour, and control comments like the one made by Musk, but given the size of the population using Twitter, that becomes near mission impossible to control comments from every single user online, and the freedom to post whatever information you choose, falls quickly out of Twitter's hands.

Katie Hopkins "Final Solution" BacklashEdit

Another example of information online causing harm and offence came in 2017 when British radio host Katie Hopkins caused upset on Twitter in the wake of the Manchester bombings (The Guardian, 2017).[80] 22 people were killed when a terrorist detonated a bomb following an Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester arena. Hopkins, who at the time hosted a show on LBC Radio channel, tweeted:

"22 dead – number rising. Schofield. Don’t you even dare. Do not be a part of the problem. We need a final solution Machester [sic].”

Katie Hopkins

She later cited the tweet to be a typo after sparking outrage by referring to the final solution, a term used by Nazis during the mass killings of millions of Jewish citizens during the second World War. LBC Radio immediately sacked Hopkins, and a complaint was made to Metropolitan Police over the incident.

Much like the Elon Musk example, Hopkins was free to post the tweet online in the wake of the attack in Manchester, and will have considered the tweet to be a matter of free speech or opinion. Yet given the huge backlash that followed the tweet, this again is where the problems lie around the debate of what can and can't be said online. The raw emotions felt by people distressed by the events in Manchester will have been hit by Hopkins' remarks, and her comments will have caused greater upset given how soon her comment was made online.

The majority of the population in the UK who used social media that night to stay connected to events in Manchester and keep up to date with everything in the aftermath of the attack will have been able to see the comment, and this shows the speed at which a large audience can be harmed by an offensive comment by a high profile figure online during a sensitive time. Again the argument around policing Twitter and other social networking sites comes into play, but this time, the big argument is whether social media platforms should do more to repeat reoffending by people who have caused harm online.

Hopkins still has her social media account to this day despite her offensive tweet being pushed as a complaint to the police. Do we have to bring in stricter laws against people who have used the freedom of speech and free will to publish information of their choosing that has caused harm, or can people get away with posting offensive content into a public domain? Regardless of the incident, Hopkins still has 1.1 million followers on Twitter, and that audience are easily susceptible to her often offensive and harmful tweets, so social media platforms need to consider taking stronger actions against people who have posted harmful content online.

Media IntrusionEdit

What Is Media Intrusion?Edit

We live in a time of great technological advancements and ubiquitous and pervasive media. The boundaries between reality and virtuality have become blurred and the media can intrude on people's lives inadvertently. Media is intrusive and this character can be felt in various fields such as politics, private lives and the government. In politics area,the power of the media has become irresistible and the result has been a media takeover (and distortion) of the democratic process.[81] There is also the phenomenon of media invasion in people's lives; for example, the media will record the portraits of the individuals in the images without the permission of the individuals when interviewing an event. When the press invades people's lives, you don't know how your information will be used.[82]

Examples Of Media IntrusionEdit

Example 1:
Natural disasters, social issues and celebrities’ tidbits will easily attract the attention of the media. Media reports sometimes will influence people's lives in order to obtain first-hand information and will alter our behaviour when looking to uncover more details on certain stories.[83]

Take one media intrusion issue in China for example: In 2015, Yao Beina, a well-known Chinese female singer, died of cancer. On the evening of January 16, a journalist from Shenzhen Evening News disguised as a doctor's assistant entered the morgue to take photos of Yao Beina's body. The issue was met with online protests and backlash from thousands, and in the early hours of January 18, 2015, Shenzhen Evening News issued an apology for the incident.

Media law varies in several countries, and in the UK, the publication of pictures of a deceased body would receive severe punishment, but the human reaction to seeing such graphic content online will be worse and if not spark other separate reasons for fallout, such as harm and offence.

Example 2:

The TV is the second most popular source of political news (Herzenberg, Aling’o & Gatimu, 2015). Many people prefer to watch TV at home rather than engage in political activities. Therefore, it soon become a medium for politicians to bombard the viewers with political purposes and project themselves as the best leaders. Some media platforms become powerful electoral actors (Herzenberg, Aling’o & Gatimu, 2015).[84]

The 2016 us presidential election ended with a victory for Mr Trump, who had little experience in politics, over Mrs Clinton, a veteran politician. Behind the big reversal, the important role of social media should not be underestimated. Trump is a standard American "web celebrity". His popularity on social media has reportedly soared since his candidacy began 2015 June, with 10.3 million twitter followers and 9.9 million Facebook followers. By comparison, Clinton has 7.78 million twitter followers and 4.8 million Facebook followers. Using social media platforms, Mr Trump has made a successful political marketing pitch. Mr Trump is not the first person to use social media to win an election. As early as the 1990s, network media, as a new form of media, has entered the stage of history and intervened in political communication. [85]

In 1996, republican candidate Buchanan used his personal website to run for the first time. Some media once commented that "The key factor in determining the outcome of the presidential election is not who understands politics better, but who knows the Internet better." In the 2008 US presidential election, the influence of social media began to emerge. Obama took the lead in using social media such as Twitter and Facebook and succeeded in the ranks, thus achieving the reputation of "Internet President". In 2012, Obama spent more on social media than he did in 2008, 10 times more than his rival Mitt Romney, with more than 21 million twitter followers and nearly 32 million Facebook followers, far more than Romney. He also employs a team of more than 100 people to run his social media accounts. He also employs a team of more than 100 people dedicated to operating his social media account. Since then, social media has been regarded as a disruptive medium in political communication, which will bring about a revolution in political communication.

Concluding RemarksEdit

With the rapid development of network information communication technology, the emerging media represented by the internet rose to prominence in the field of public communication, revolutionized the way of human information transmission, and achieved unprecedented development in human information freedom.

The network information transmission which based on the internet, maintains the citizen's freedom of speech, freedom of expression, the right to know and to supervise the implementation to a maximum extent, but at the same time, network information anonymity, the spread of disorder and arbitrary characteristics also provides the possibility of abusing in terms of freedom of expression, freedom of speech and contributes strong impact on the public interests, national interests and private interests.

It leads to diverse interests damage problems become increasingly vital. While fully enjoying the freedom of information on the internet, the users should also fulfil their obligations to maintain the order of the internet and the security of national information and public order. The internet has provided an unprecedented platform for diversity of speech and the free flow of information, and the freedom of information provided by the internet is not absolutely free.

Change can be expected given the issues the freedom of information online has posed, and given these matters are still technically in their infancy with how new these challenges from online networks are, it may be a while before real change is implemented. But the debate over who's freely entitled to what information and what they can share in the public domain will be sure to rage on for years to come.


Sensitive Topics 1: Violence


In today's web 2.0 era, people use Internet constantly in all spheres of their life. The rapid transmission of information also shortens the distance between people, so that various industries have fast development. Because of the Internet, work efficiency is improved, communication is facilitated, as well as many other aspects of everyday life are facilitated (Castells et al., 2009). At the same time, Internet information networks have brought about many challenges that have multi-angle and multi-level impact (Graham and Dutton, 2019). While Internet brings convenience, it is impossible to ignore its two sides with such negative phenomenon as cyber violence being worth thinking about. It is a common phenomenon and a new problem in today's society. The network violence can be targeted at all people, hence nobody may fee secure and protected. The power of Internet violence is very strong. This kind of violence has always existed in the Internet, and even has been promoted in recent years. After the widespread generation and development of social software and mass media, the problem of Internet violence has become more serious, having evolved into a behavioral patter in online communities. Because the netizens know they would hardly bear any responsibility for inappropriate behavior, such irresponsible behavior catalyzed the spread of Internet violence. It also has a profound impact on people's psychology, cognition, and behavior (Flüchter and Schöttli, 2014). At the same time this kind of network phenomenon also reflected the development of societies and overall cultural codes and norms. At the same time, the reasons for this phenomenon are also related to the regulatory system of online media. Within the context outlined, the main aim of the present paper is to critically review and analyse the nature of cyber violence as phenomenon, its types, reasons, and consequences to highlight the importance of dealing with it in modern online and offline arenas.

Main DiscussionEdit

Definition and Nature of Cyber Violence

Violence online is commonly associated with bullying which is a pattern of physical behavior transferred into relationships between people online (McGuire and Holt, 2017). As it is explained by McGuire and Holt (2017), bullying in the physical world refers to aggressive behavior against others, which is intentional and could stem from the power imbalance between individuals. This means that the victim of bullying generally should be weaker in terms of social status or physically, or in any other terms. While bullying in cyberspaces is similar to the violence in the physical environment, it has several differences and specific manifestations that should be noted. First of all, it should be mentioned that violence is a broader term as such. Internet violence is defined as physical, psychological, emotional or verbal acts that constitute aggression in web communication and may take the form of posting of defamatory, reputational or inflammatory remarks online that cause significant harm to the victim, intentionally or unintentionally (Reyes et al., 2011). The difference between cyber violence and traditional violence is that cyber violence comes from the Internet and brings online violence into real life, which is actually a kind of offline violence. Although cyber violence is not the real violence on the victim's body, its psychological and emotional damage to them is immeasurable. This is often accompanied by tort and criminal acts, people can use education, moral restraint, law, and other means to regulate (Reyes et al., 2011). So network violence is also an extension of social violence. Internet users should treat Internet violence objectively and rationally.

Classification of Cyber Violence

At the same time, Cassidy, Faucher, and Jackson (2018) differentiate between cyber violence and cyberbullying at large as these are two different types of actions. This leads to the need to outline the main types of cyber violence, as it was already mentioned that it is a broad term covering different types of aggressive intentional or unintentional behavior online. Graham and Smith (2019) outline four types of online violence that include cyberbullying, cyberstalking, flaming, and trolling.

Cyberbullying refers to repeated and intentional behavior online when hostile and aggressive messages about a victim are communicated to such victim and others with the aim to cause harm, discomfort, and negative emotions. As in the case of violence in the real-life, cyberbullying is the most harmful when it is committed by a person or a group of people who have larger power than their victims (Graham and Smith, 2019). There were many cases when famous people committed suicide as a direct or indirect result of cyberbullying because they faced aggression online from millions of people. For instance, among the most recent cases, the two cases of suicides of the K-pop stars within the last month in Korea which are considered to be the consequence of cyberbullying and cyber violence raised the question of the impact cyberbullying might have (Yi and Cha, 2019). Such media attention and overall awareness and discussion of the cyberbullying problem make it one of the most widespread and the most easily identifying forms of online violence.

Cyberstalking refers to the intentional and repeated following of a person by using electronic means of communication and all related devices (Reyns, Henson, and Fisher, 2011). While this form of violence is not that evidently aggressive as it consists in liking or commenting on posts, sending messages and communicating online which might be perceived by others as common practice, it is the fear that the victim of stalker feels and associates with such actions by a specific person (Bocij, 2004). Hence, it is not the act of stalking itself, but its emotions impact the victim whose level of stress and anxiety increases and could cause significant harm to health and life.

Flaming is one of the most unintentional forms of cyber violence as it refers to the expressed hostility and insults a person addresses to others in online interaction when controversial issues are discussed, and such reaction is caused by emotions and inclination to deviated behaviors in general (Gordon, 2018). Some people even do not consider flamming as crime, but just as emotional fights on the web where people cross the boundaries of accepted behaviors (Graham and Smith, 2019).

Trolling might be defined as intentional and deliberation actions aimed at initiating conflict on the web which generally consists of humiliating and mocking on someone, following such person in comments and posts, and other types of intrusive aggressive interaction (Bishop, 2013). Similarly to flamming, trolling is a type of deviated cyber behavior that might not always be a crime or a manifestation of cyber violence, but still cause harm to the victim. As it is explained by Graham and Smith (2019), the difference between flamming and trolling is that the first type of actions are generally spontaneous and result from the emotional reactions of people to certain comments events, or behaviors fo others, while trolling is more conscious and intentional actions aimed to generate the long-term impact (Graham and Smith, 2019).

Manifestations of Cyber Violence

The main methods and manifestations of cyber violence include postings of threats or other hurtful messages online via numerous channels, including social media, instant messengers, or other public platforms (McGuire and Holt, 2017). Evidently, the manifestations of cyber violence differ depending on the type of violence discussed above. However, the most frequent manifestations might be outlined. Cassidy, Faucher, and Jackson (2018) refer to the survey conducted among French university students to identify the main forms of cyber violence they have faced. According to the results, the most frequent forms of online aggression people become the victims of referring to the various types of intimidating and nasty messages, statistically followed y sharing personal information without any consent, intimidating emails, and sexting what means sending information or offers of unpleasant sexual nature. As it is noted by Navarro, Yubero, and Larrañaga (2015), in some countries different types of cyberbullying are called differently and though the terms might be used interchangeably, this allows outlining the main manifestations of online violence more precisely. For instance, in South Korea, such behaviors that all fall into the category of cyberbullying are distinguished as school cyber violence, group isolation in online networks, group harassment or group abuse. In this regard, it is interesting to mention that the prevailing types of internet violence and specifically cyberbullying as its main form differ across the countries. This might be attributed to the fact that abusers try to cause the most harm to their victims and the perception of what is the most harmful differs due to the cultural background of people and social norms. For instance, as it is reported by Navarro, Yubero, and Larrañaga (2015), the most popular form of cyberbullying in Hong Kong is excluding someone from the group online activity, ignoring and isolating such person. This might be explained by the fact, that China is a collectivist society according to Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions theory, where affiliation to the group is an important aspect of a comfortable life (Khairullah and Khairullah, 2013). Hence, being excluded from the group leads to negative emotions and overall consequences for people in their life.

cybe cyber violence

Reasons of Cyber Violence

The causes of network violence are related to the subjective and objective environment of the network.

Firstly the hidden features of the network lead to the emergence of network violence, because the hidden features of the network have two levels of significance.

Users access information by observing the network time and space isolation hidden by the main text and language means. Secondly, in online networks, the user's identity is hidden by registering multiple user IDs, which makes the privacy of the network more complicated. The user can be active in the network with different identities. Due to the anonymity of the Internet, individuals do not have to take responsibility for the network activities, so the moral bottom line is easily broken. Many users can use the privacy of the network to make violent speeches to other users on the network to attack others, but if they participate in the competition as the real identity, they must think twice (Hao, 2007).

The second reason for the formation of network violence is collective behavior and entertainment desire. Collective behavior refers to the social collection, and cyber violence is a typical collective behavior; at the same time, it has the obvious function of group entertainment (Yuehua, 2008). The active participants of cyber violence are more likely to make the world fear not to fall into chaos. From the psychological point of view, the disconnection of cyber violence is to entertain the audience, attract the attention of the audience victims, and make the audience happy to pursue it. Collective behavior makes the group of network violence participate in network violence with a positive attitude, and face the problem of network violence with an irrational way of thinking. The participants have no sense of responsibility more and more. Participants make moral judgments and judge others based on simple information, easily solve participants' problems, gain pleasure and satisfaction from the process, attack others and hurt victims in subtle ways (Juanqi et. al, 2009).

The third reason for the formation of Internet violence is the dislocation of freedom. The birth of the Internet provides a platform for grassroots people. Users use the Internet to express their opinions. Most users think that free comment on the Internet is a symbol of freedom and social progress because users can freely speak on the Internet and act as masters of public opinion supervision and justice. Most Internet users think that their self-expression on the Internet is a unique view of society, and they will think that they are right and disagree with other views. When Internet users reach consensus and freedom, they will not realize that network attacks will harm others. So this kind of unrestricted freedom is a kind of dislocation freedom. In the Internet forum, this kind of dislocation freedom will lead to a lack of reflection and control of users, which leads to network violence (Juanqi et. al, 2009).

The fourth reason is the lack of law and moral restriction. The disadvantage of internet violence is that the lack of legal awareness when users use the Internet leads to social moral distortion. In real life, people will be responsible for their actions because of legal constraints. However, there are no laws to regulate users in the network, which makes the network moral lack. Once the lack of moral constraints, people will be irresponsible for their behaviour. Hao (2007) has too many unknowns in the network, so users usually don't have to take responsibility. Moreover, because the formulation of network law lags far behind the reality, when there is network violence, there is no timely establishment of reasonable laws and regulations to restrict users, which leads to the growing trend of network violence. All of these increase the possibility of cyber violence.

cyber violence

Consequences of Cyber Violence

While people can not harm others physically through Internet, consequences of cyber violence may be similar or even more serious to the victim, depending on many factors. As in the case of bullying in the physical world, cyber violence has detrimental consequences for the victims. McGuire and Holt (2017) list negative emotional conditions, embarrassment, anger, shame, and even depression among the main effects of continuous attacks to list a few. The main impact of cyber violence includes four aspects. In the majority of cases, the information and accusations of the aggressor online are false, but the speed of such information dissemination on the web makes it difficult for the victim to react to such information promptly and prevent it from spreading (Khosrow-Pour, 2018). The audience that receives and transmits such information is wide so that the victim would get into trouble and danger, the inaccurate information will cause serious damage to the victim's life both online and offline.

Network violence is the transmission of false information, true and false difficult to distinguish. With the development of cyber violence, a lot of information has become untruthful and unreliable false information in the process of dissemination. This process is often the truth that is misinterpreted, which will make people misunderstand some information or the parties concerned. When many netizens participate in Internet violence incidents, they will treat things with personal emotion. In other words, they tend to have a "first impression" on an event, and this "first impression" is a criterion that is hard to change. Many netizens who do not know the truth will also unconsciously join in the cyber violence, because they believe the content of false information, so as to virtually act as a promoter of the development of cyber violence. Therefore, the false information in network violence is not good for society, but also the lack of morality (Flüchter and Schöttli, 2014).

Cyber violence infringes upon rights and interests. In cyber violence, the parties will be hurt physically and mentally. Such irrational violence directly affects the real life of the parties. Especially through the network to the party's personal information investigation and exposure, personal privacy was leaked, and in real-life harassment. This is a serious infringement of rights. For example, many stars suffer from "depression" or even suicide because they cannot bear the criticism of cyber violence. This is enough to prove that infringement of rights is a very serious impact of cyber violence. Cyber violence will harm the moral values of Internet users, the right values are the guarantee of social harmony and normal operation. Network violence impinges on people's own defense system, and moral values will be distorted under the impact of cyber violence. The originally advocated dialectics was completely ignored in Internet violence, which led to two extremes. In the case of cyber violence, the netizens who participate in the incident blindly support one side's views and personal colors that are too absolute, doing things that violate morality while ignoring their own mistakes.

This is the expression that cyber violence distorts value. The occurrence of cyber violence makes participants strengthen their own opinions. Therefore, when other opinions invade, participants will try their best to maintain their own opinions, leading to self-deception, no longer accepting other opinions, and distorted values.

Cyber violence can cause social panic. Cyber violence infringes on the right of reputation and privacy of the parties to a certain extent, increases the risk of personal information security, and causes public panic. Some intemperate speech or behavior on the network has touched the law, make moral and good faith lose gradually. Researchers say the harassment of victims of cyber violence is on the rise globally, and that it causes more cybercrime than traditional violence. And some cyber violence can destroy a person's life. With the popularity of social media people's behavior and language can through these social media show in public life, with the development of human flesh search, private information was revealed, too many Internet users pay close attention to and criticism of the network events to expand the influence of things, cause the cyber violence, these behaviors cause serious physical and mental damage to a party. As a result, more and more people do not trust the government or other people's help because of cyber violence, and social credibility is reduced.

Concluding RemarksEdit


As it stems from the analysis conducted, cyber violence is a serious negative aspect of online communication and web as such. It may take different forms, which vary based on the cyber violence manifestations, effects, and consequences. The most prevailing form of cyber violence is cyber bullying, which is generally based on power imbalance and might lead to very serious harm to psychological and physical health of a victim. At the same time, other forms of cyber violence such as cyber stalking, flaming, or trolling might also be intentional acts to cause harm to a victim, and hence all are the examples of deviated online behavior. There are many reasons and factors that foster cyber violence, which include but are not limited to the nature of online networks that allow remaining anonymous, the pressure of collective behavior and freedom people feel they have online, as well as the lack of legal action and punishment for such behaviours. When considering the consequences of such behavior, it becomes clear that this problem is more multi-faceted than anyone can imagine, and this means that a comprehensive collective action at many levels is required to address this challenge of the modern cyber society.


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