In 2008, the Anti-Bullying Research and Resource Centre discovered nearly 30.2% of students reported they had been bullied within previous months. Moreover, 24.9% of students stated they had taken part in bullying others at school (Anti-Bullying Centre, 2008).
The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) federal regulation states that a person must be aged 13 or older in order to use websites such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace, however there are fears that millions of users are below this legal age with, technology firm, ComScore estimating that up to 3.6m Facebook users are under the age of 12. "Not only are kids lying about their age, but more often than not, parents teach them to lie about their age," said Microsoft researcher, Danah Boyd.
One such example is that of 44 year old Cristina Flores, she allowed her 11 year old son to sign up on Facebook without realising that age restrictions existed. "It's not like there's a legal age limit for being on the Internet," she said. His son, Jake, told the site he was 15 years old. It appears this isn't uncommon with half of his class doing the same thing.
The former chief of security at MySpace, Hemanshu Nigam, told the NY Times the story of an 11 year old boy who accepted a friend request from a girl in his class, the only issue was that 'her' profile was fake. The boys pictures ended up on a sex themed website with some very distasteful comments. "It can be a living nightmare for an 11-year-old who just wanted to hang out with his friends" he said.
With the vast amount of data pushed through Facebook.com each day, monitoring harassment and demeaning behavior rests squarely on our shoulders. Facebook is unveiling a new set of tools launched to squash bullies from having free reign across the social space.
Facebook's new features allow users to report such behavior through several new options; Facebook says the intention is to create a "culture of respect" and a stronger sense of community.
Facebook also revised the Terms of Service (TOS) to make it against the rules to bully, demean, or harass any other user.
Among the anti-bully suite will have several new features:
- Reach out to the user who tagged you in a photo - the tool facilitates a post or image removal request.
- A de-friend action.
- A block user action. With this option there is the ability to report this to a friend for support.