Social Media Companies should be Held Liable for Cyberbullying | My Paper Hub
Introduction Social media is one of the fast...
Social media is one of the fastest growing
forms of communication in the world. Social media allow the use of technology
to facilitate social interaction among people, especially through the use of
Internet-based applications that make it possible for creation as well as the
exchange of content that is user-generated(Luxton, June and Fairall 195). Some of the widely used social
media platforms include social media networking sites, such as Twitter,
Facebook, blogging related websites, video sites as well as electronic bulletin
platforms. Despite the fact that social media play an influential role when it
comes to enhancing communication among people, especially personalized based
communication compared to traditional media, it has been blamed for the rise in
the cases of cyber bullying in U.S and other parts of the world. Cyberbullying
involves a person making use of electronic media in sending messages to another
individual, ones that are threatening or intimidating in nature. According to
Donegan, the number of cases of cyberbullying related cases reported in the
social media has been on the rise (Donegan 34). Most of the social media
bullying cases relate to persons insulting, spreading false information about
another or threatening the life of another. The social media bullying has been
reported to have a negative effect on the victims’ social, psychological and
Due to the rise in the number of the cases of
social media related bullying, there has been an ongoing debate on whether
social media companies should be held liable for cyberbullying in their
respective sites or not. There are those who argue that social media companies
are supposed to control bullying related messages on their sites, but other
argues that it is impossible for the companies to control bullying-related
crimes. However, I strongly believe that social media companies are supposed to
be held accountable for cases of bullying carried out in their sites by
individuals. Despite the fact that it is not possible to control what people
say, but it is possible to monitor the messages and posts of individuals and
pulling down ones that are of the nature of bullying or hate crime.
Why Social Media is Important
in the Society
First, before looking at the issue
of bullying in social media, it is vital to have a brief discussion on the
positive impacts of using social media in the society. The use of social media
has helped in enhancing communication among people from different parts of the
world (Cohen-Almagor 31). For example, one can communicate with people from
U.S, while in U.K, through the use of social media. Additionally, the social
media has revolutionized access to new in the society. Today, people can easily
access news report related to issues happening around the world, immediately
they happen, without them being edited in any way as it is the case with the
mainstream media (Cohen-Almagor 12).
Furthermore, social media have been
instrumental in enhancing interaction of people around the world. People can
create accounts, which they use to interact with friends from different parts
of the world, through messaging and posting of some thoughts (Cohen-Almagor 32).
This indicates that through social media people can interact with one another
on major issues affecting their lives and the society. For instance, companies
around the world are using social media as part of marketing strategies to have
a personalized interaction with customers. Also, social media have been
instrumental in enhancing cultural and social interactions in different fields,
such as in the field of education, sporting and others.
However, social media benefits have been
overshadowed by the rise in incidences of bullying and hate messages. This has
brought the debate concerning what should be done to control hate within social
media. The main argument has focused on holding social media companies
accountable for the bullying actions of their users. There are many reasons why
it is vital to hold the companies responsible for bullying incidences.
Argument in Support of
holding Social Media Liable for Cyberbullying
One of the reasons why social media related
bullying needs to be controlled by holding social media liable for any bullying
crimes committed by users is due to the negative effects that it has on the
victims' social, psychological and mental well-being. The number of suicides
among the teens arising due to social media bullying has been on the rise
(Luxton, June and Fairall 196). For example, in the U.S the number of teens
committing suicide due to being bullied online, especially through social media
is worrying. The current trend indicates that the number of people losing their
lives due to being bullied through social media is rising at an alarming
When a post about a person that is demeaning
is made on a social media site, it is seen by thousands or millions of people
at times. The post has a negative effect on the social well-being of the
affected victim. The victim's self-confidence and this makes a victim to commit
suicide due to the public embarrassment caused by a demeaning post (Görzig and
Frumkin 8). The rise in the number of bullying-related suicides among the teens
and other groups of people in the society is something that shows that social
media use needs to be controlled and regulated.
The negative social and psychological impacts of being bullied through
social media platforms are something that has adverse effects on the quality of
the life of the victims. This shows that social media companies are supposed to
be held accountable for the bullying messages and posts, as they have a responsibility
of ensuring that their sites are not used to cause harm to other individuals in
Second, social media companies are
supposed to put in place measures aimed at monitoring and controlling bullying
and hate messages. Snakenborg, Van Acker and Gable (87) notes that pulling down
posts that are hateful or threatening in nature can help in preventing social
media bullying from having a negative impact on the victims. It is the
responsibility of the social media companies to come up with strategies for
continually monitoring cases of cyberbullying in different accounts and taking
appropriate actions of pulling down negative posts and messages that are
hateful in nature. Every business organization has a responsibility of ensuring
that it does not offer services or products that cause harm to any person from
a legal perspective. Therefore, social media companies have a legal obligation
of ensuring that they have strong policies in place of control messages that
are demeaned to be in violation of the constitution on the freedom of
expression and opinion by pulling them for the interest of good for the greater
public (DeNardis and Hackl 765).
The main challenge today is that most of the
social media companies have policies in place aimed at preventing bullying
incidences, but they do not implement most of them, given they cannot be held
accountable directly for bullying incidences by institutions of justice in the
society, such as courts. Thus, there is urgent need of putting in place legal
measures that make social media companies liable for actions of their users who
engage in bullying related activities through their social media accounts
platforms provided by these companies. Holding the companies responsible
legally can force them to act effectively by ensuring that any hateful post did
not stay for more than an hour before it is detected and pulled down.
Furthermore, social media companies
have an ethical obligation of ensuring that what is posted by individuals in
their sites does not cause harm to others. According to Whittaker and Kowalski
(11) cyberbullying through social media is a form of violence that causes harm
mainly to young people. The incidences of suicides among young people due to
being threatened or bullied through social media have been on the rise in the
The high cases of bullying in the U.S and the
negative implications of these cases are an indication that social media
bullying is not good at for the society, especially the affected victims.
Social media companies have an ethical obligation of ensuring that they prevent
individuals from using their platforms to cause harm to others. This can only
be achievable by ensuring that social media companies are held to account for
any bullying incidences that occur within their platforms.
If an action is causing harm to the majority
of the people; then, an organization is supposed to come up with measures that
can help ensure that the same action is not repeated in the future. The way in
which social media companies can manage to deal with bullying incidences has
strong monitoring systems that help to identify hateful messages or any other
incidences of bullying and pulling down the messages immediately or closing an
account that engages in bullying related activities permanently (DeNardis and
Nonetheless, the social media companies
currently have not invested in strong monitoring systems allowing incidences of
bullying in their sites to continue taking place. This means that the only way
to force social media companies to enforce their ethical obligation of
preventing individuals from being harmed through bullying is by holding them to
account for the actions of the users who engage in bullying so that they can
invest in the right measures of preventing bullying in the future.
Argument against of holding
Social Media Liable for Cyberbullying
Despite the fact that there are people who
support the needs of holding social media companies liable for incidences of
bullying in their sites, there is another group of people in the society who
strongly oppose the idea. One of the main arguments against
social media being held liable for bullying is that it is impossible for the
companies to control what is posted by individuals. Individuals have a freedom
of speech and denying them freedom of freely expressing their thoughts on
social media sites would amount to curtailing their freedom of speech (DeNardis and Hackl 761).
according to the U.S Constitution people have a freedom of speech. This means
that social media companies cannot curtail what people say or dictate what
people write on their sites. For example, it is difficult for social media
companies to deny individuals the right to post whatever they want in their
social media accounts, as this would amount to denying them the right to
express their opinions, which is guaranteed constitutionally. The people have
freedom of speech, and it is a challenge for social media companies to control
what is posted by individuals on their site fully. However, every freedom should be exercised
responsibly, and the social media companies have responsible of putting in
place measures of controlling what is harmful from their users. It is
impossible for them to run away from the responsibility of dealing with
bullying in their respective sites.
On the other hand, there are those individuals
who argue that social media companies cannot be held to account for the action
of individuals. The focus of preventing social media bullying should mainly be
in the area ensuring that individuals act in a responsible way (Cohen-Almagor 234). The individuals
should be educated on the importance of ensuring that they do not post messages
that cause harm to others socially and psychologically. Therefore, the focus of
the society should be more in the area of making sure individuals who engage in
cyberbullying are held into account as a way of deterring others from engaging
in similar activities.
Those who provide this argument try to show
that individual obligation to act decently should not be passed to the company
when a person fails to behave the way he or she is expected legally or
socially. However, the argument ignores the facts that social media companies
have an obligation of making sure they are not misused by individuals to cause
harm to others. The companies should act as regulators of the content posted,
making them liable for individual actions of those who post harmful
Despite the fact that social media play a
critical role in enhancing communication and interactions in the society, it
has some adverse effects on the population. The arguments provided in this
paper indicate that social media affects victims in an adverse way, where some
end up committing suicide. On the basis of the negative implication of the
uncontrolled use of social media, it is vital to ensure that social media usage
is regulated and controlled from the perspective of the social media companies
rather than from the point of the individual users (Ferriter and Ramsden 145).
Holding social media companies accountable for these posts that are
threatening, hateful in nature can play a significant role in forcing them to
implement measures and policies that aids in dealing with bullying in the
society in the most effective manner. The current policies seem not being
effectively implemented because the social media companies are not being held
accountable for their actions, making them reluctant in implementing the
policies. In conclusion, it is my strong belief that social media companies are
supposed to be held accountable for cyber bullying so as to force them to put
in place measures to control intimidating and threatening messages to victims
of bullying in the future.
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