Persistence: While traditional bullying generally stops at the end of the school day, cyberbullying can continue 24-7 due to the "always connected" nature of today's online culture.
Permanence: Bullying and humiliation can last for a longer time and be seen by more people online. This can have a prolonged impact on future employment prospects, college admissions, and social interactions for victims.
Harder to Notice: Teachers and parents may not witness cyberbullying take place, which makes it more difficult to recognize and often harder for victims' complaints to be taken seriously.
As this video from StopBullying.gov explains, the effects of bullying often are amplified when it's done over online channels like email, social media, messaging apps, or forums:
Continuous, targeted harassment in online communities can be detrimental for users and the platform hosting them. This is especially true for youth-oriented platforms like eLearning and gaming sites. Cyberbullying doesn't just create an unpleasant user experience, it also can sink retention rates and damage the commercial viability of the platform itself.
Simply put: Cyberbullying is toxic to communities and bad for business.
How can communities stop cyberbullying?
Online platforms must take the initiative to combat cyberbullying. A comprehensive Trust & Safety operation is essential, especially one that can scale with a growing platform's user numbers.
While specific anti-bullying efforts will differ by platform, here are a few points to keep in mind:
Set clear, transparent policies: Clearly defined community guidelines set the tone for any online platform. It's imperative to prominently state that harassment and cyberbullying will not be tolerated, and will result in removal from the platform.
Give warnings for mild offenses: Not everyone who lashes out at another user is a cyberbully – always consider the context. First-time offenders often will self-correct if they're notified of problematic behavior before it spirals out of control.