Information Technology and Ethics/Cyber-Crimes II

Cyber Bullying


The world is celebrating the flourishing of the information technology age where use of cutting edge technology such as E-Mail, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Amazon, and Uber have exploded. These new technologies and social media platforms provide users a way of quickly retrieving an answer to any question they have, resulting in almost no unanswerable question. The dilemma with these new platforms and social media is the constant availability to always communicate with any individual regardless of location.

Humans can be mean and cruel to each other for no apparent reason. This is commonly referred to as bullying. By definition, “the term bullying is equated to the concept of harassment, which is a form of unprovoked aggression often directed repeatedly toward another individual or group of individuals.”[1] With these new technologies, this cruelty and unfounded hatred for one another can now be expressed by a simple stoke of a keyboard.

Individuals are forced to alter their definition from the most commonly thought about form of bullying which includes physical or verbal abuse, to a form many of those born prior to the 21st century, could not have imagined. It has taken on new means of destruction, dehumanization, and humiliation by methods through the various forms of technology which sit in most of our hands on a daily basis. Dehumanization, hatred, and cruelty to one another via digital means is referred to as cyber bullying. The definition of cyber bullying, according to the cyber bullying research center is defined as “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices”[2] This enviable evolution has left many people, minors in particular, susceptible to hatred by their peers and even anonymous individuals hiding behind the safety of a keyboard. It is much easier to sit behind a keyboard and type meaningless non-factual messages to any individual making face to face confrontation a thing of the past.

Where Does Bullying Happen?


Bullying can happen in schools where adult supervision is not present. This can include but is not limited to playgrounds, cafeterias, locker rooms, parks, and other facilities.[3] In the workplace however, bullying can occur on while "on the clock" or after work hours. Technology enables individuals to stay in constant contact with each other via numerous messaging services like Facebook, Twitter, and E-Mail. This enables bullies to use digital platforms to deliver their hatred and abuse. This may give the illusion that there is no escape from bullying because the technology is persistent and instant.

Causes of Cyber Bullying


According to Stop Bullying research, there are numerous causes on how this starts

  • Bullies tend to derive from dysfunctional families
  • Early onset of puberty may lead to some bullying
  • Person doing the bullying may feel in the position of power or fame
  • Electronic communications, more informal and less empathetic[4]

Effects of Cyber Bullying


It has a negative effect on a person growing up, such as, the victim feels sad, rejected, or frightened. It causes low self-esteem and low interest in school. In some cases, it can cause people to commit suicide if the pain is too much and the immediate option to ease it the suffering is suicide.[5] Kids who are cyber bullied are more likely to use alcohol and drugs, skip school, suffer depression, perform poorly on their academics and extra circular activities, suffer from low self-esteem, and perform self-injury such as cutting or burning. In the work place there might be similar instances where coworker bullying other workers for minor or no reason. This can lead to an unfriendly workplace adding stress and negatively affect job performance.[6] This can have more than one consequence and the individual and the company itself. If workers are getting bullied in person or via technology they might be more inclined to leave the company, perform poorly on the job, and might even cause them to commit suicide. They may also suffer psychological distress and take the anger out on unrelated individuals such as family and friend.[7]

Is Cyber Bullying a Crime?


Up until recently, there hasn't really been laws addressing cyber bullying. Due to recent events like suicides and school shootings, legislators have been keeping a look out. Certain laws were created depending on the state, such as Florida's "Jeffrey Johnston Stand Up for All Students Act" which prohibits bullying of any K-12 student or staff member, but most of the enforcement are done at the school level. In the work place however, many employers and employees cannot differentiate between harassment and bullying. Harassment usually incorporates some type of sexual misconduct as well as verbal abuse.[8] There are several laws prohibiting harassment in the workplace but how about bullying? If we take the definition and apply it to some unpleasant workplace conduct, it is clearly bullying. It may shock some individuals to know that some individuals are not protected under the law. The law clearly states that if an individual is of a minority group, that individual does have some protection under the law. There are 7 protected status groups in the U.S. and 11 in Canada based on gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc. however, if one is not part of one of these minority groups there is absolutely zero protection under the law.[9]

Penalties for Cyber Bullying?


It all depends on the state and applicable laws, but the sanctions can range from civil penalties, such as school suspensions or expulsions, to possible jail time for criminal misdemeanors or even felonies. There are currently no federal laws that specifically applies to bullying. If the cause for bullying is based on race, national origin, sex, disability, color, or religion the school's are legally obligated to address it.[10]

Report Cyber Bullying


This can unfortunately happen to anyone, it's important to take steps such as documenting and report the behavior so it can be corrected.

1. Immediate Actions

  • Ignore and don't forward negative messages
  • Keep all evidence, record the dates, times, and descriptions of instances when being cyber bullied. Since we live in an age of technology, save and print screenshots from emails and text messages. You can then use this evidence and file a report to cell phone service providers or on some websites

2. Report Cyber Bullying to Online Service Providers When using social media to cyber bully, it often violates their terms of agreement or services

  • Review their terms of conditions, these usually talk about what content is permitted or not
  • You can often block users from contacting you under some account settings
  • Report cyber bullying to the social media site so corrective action can take place such as violations of their terms and services

3. Report Cyber Bullying to Law Enforcement When cyber bullying involves these activities listed below, it's considered a crime and should be reported

  • Threats of violence
  • Child pornography or sending sexually explicit text messages or photos
  • Stalking and hate crimes

4. Report Cyber Bullying to Schools

  • Cyber bullying can create a disruptive environment in school, it's important to have evidence of it occurring so your school can use that information to help inform, and prevent it from happening in the future
  • On several states, school are required to address cyber bullying in their anti-bullying policy[11]



Cyber-stalking is similar to cyber – bullying but there actions are more severe and involve adults. Stalkers gear unwanted threatening behavior towards the victim. Cyber stalkers may harm their victims in two ways, they will incite a group of people against the victim or they may harm the victim’s property and reputation. In order for a cyber-stalker to rally a group of unknown individuals against the victim, they must first portray themselves as victims. They claim the victim has done something to them or their families and must be punished .In order to harass their victims more, cyber stalkers may post the victim’s name, phone number and address on a social site. Their stories may inspire others to join in harassing the victim. Cyber stalkers may attack the victim’s computer using malicious software. They may also order embarrassing items in the name of the victim and have it delivered to their workplace.

What Should You Do?

  1. Contact the harasser Once (and only once),to let him/her know that their harassment is unwarranted and must cease immediately.
  2. Keep a record of all the cyberstalking evidence including emails and postings in either hard-copy or digital form.
  3. Report the incident(s) to your Internet Service Provider and consider changing ISPs to stop cyber-stalking.
  4. Close your current email account and open a new one without using your real name. Consider using email filters to block the known person from contacting them.
  5. Contact your local police to see what additional action can be taken.
  6. Contact your local FBI Computer Crimes Unit.

Virtual Worlds


Recent technological advances have allowed people to create alter egos who may or may not represent who they are or who they want to become.In these games players may interact with each other, while completing other activities. For example in World of Warcraft players may play against other players or against the environment of the game.These games have become big money because players do not only pay to be apart of the game but they may also pay for special items that may be used in the game. What happens when a crime is committed in one of these virtual worlds? It sometimes depends on whether or not the crime could be traced.For example players who are caught trafficking stolen credit card numbers can be prosecuted in our world.There are crimes authorities are not sure what to do with such as the rape of an avatar in Second Life.

  1. M. Manning, J. Heron, and T. Marshal. “Style of Hostility and Social Interactions at Nursery, at School, and at Home: An Extended Study of Children.” In Aggression and Antisocial Behavior in Childhood and Adolescence, edited by Lionel A. Hersov, M. Berger, and David R. Shaffer, 29–58. Oxford: Pergamon, 1978.
  2. What is Cyberbullying? (2015, December 11). Retrieved May 06, 2017, from