Now if you are someone over the age of 35 reading this blog, you are forgiven, just this once, for thinking a troll is some sort of mythical, cave-dwelling under the bridge sort of individual. Let me explain..when it comes to internet trolling, this is just not the case. Although there may indeed be some mythical folk online, trolling is an activity which is increasing rapidly in us normal humans. And it’s just not cool. In fact online trolling has serious effects on young people, and here’s the thing - recent research reports that 1 in 3 young people aged 14-18 received offensive online comments – and 1 in 10 have carried it (trolling) out.
The survey also found that 1 in 3 young people were the subject of trolling in the last six months – and 1 in 4 are affected by it regularly.
Now for me what’s most alarming is, that so many individuals are getting enjoyment out of causing pain and hurt to others in this way. Alarmingly, also is that out of the 2,000 teenagers involved, it was found that the majority of offensive online comments by ‘trolls’ are in respect to the victim’s appearance (40%) or about their religion or race (16%) with Facebook being the most common platform for victims to be trolled. And this behaviour is escalating! Come on facebookers, there’s just no need.
Now many people who use Social Networks such as Facebook & Twitter might be sick of hearing messages from me (if you hav’nt seen such messages, stop everything and follow me right nowJ. You are feeling sleepy….) in relation to lifestyle skills, tips and awareness on how to use social media platforms responsibly and to your advantage. Encouraging young people not to troll and making them aware of the consequences of trolling is so important.
Many of those who carry out trolling do so because they think it’s funny. It’s not. It’s thoughtless, cruel, harmful and can lead to some serious consequences such as depression, self-harm, or even force those who have experienced trolling to contemplate or attempt suicide leaving families and friends to live with the aftermath.
Now with cases of Internet trolling on the rise it’s important that young people know how to deal with an online troll, so I’ve come up with 3 Steps which you’re welcome to, to help keep you safer online. Now my first one is a really important one. I want you to remember it and spread the word. It could help dramatically reduce some of the negative experiences your friends, family and any young people you tell, encounter online..
Also never ‘Feed the Trolls’ which brings bystanding behaviour to a new level. This means winding someone up until they post trolling comments. It’s just not tennis.
Trolling is dangerous game, you have no clue who is going to join in. And that’s when it can get outta hand. You could create a monster. Be responsible. It’s not big and it’s not clever.
On my drive home tonight from a radio interview where we were discussing how young people can manage their online reputation, it got me thinking that I must write up a blog post on some thoughts and tips. They might just help prevent some young people from making some very big mistakes when it comes to things they say online, comments they post or images they share. I’m thinking of Paris Brown, the Teenage Youth Police Commissioner who was forced to quit over ‘offensive’ tweets she made when she was only 14. I always tell young people I speak to, things can have a habit of coming back to haunt us. Hindsight is a great thing.
Now my first bit of advice or ‘words of wisdom’ might come be a bit of shock to some people reading this blog. Ok so here it comes, are you ready?
If you’re going to post something online be sure you’re confortable with putting it up on a massive Billboard – yup that’s right a massive Billboard in every town and city across the world. When it comes to the Internet I see it as ‘World of Mouth’ because a single tweet or Facebook post has the potential to reach every corner of the world in a matter of seconds. Remember - What you post online becomes public information and is searchable. This is no exaggeration.
But.. I hear you say, Wayne I would never post anything, which would offend anyone, not even in the slightest.. But here’s the thing. A recent research report Teens, Social Media & Privacy 2013 found that ‘59% of teens have deleted or edited something which they posted in the past’. Another study carried out in 2012 into the online behaviour of 2,000 Over 18s found ‘a third wish they had kept photographs or personal or biographical details to themselves’
So tell us , how can future superstars of the world protect and keep our online reputation in tiptop shape, - well there are a few bits of advice, which might just help you out ;
1: Keep your Personal Information Private - When it comes to keeping stuff private on social networks it’s harder than you think. And you would be right in thinking you might need a PHD with platforms such as Facebook changing the rules about how you can protect yourself and your content. That being said there is no excuse for doing nothing about your privacy settings. Pay attention to the content, which you upload to social, network sites and adjust the privacy settings accordingly to suit who you want to be able to view and potentially share It on. Keep an eye out for images which others post of you that you might be unhappy with or embarrassed about and remove the tag which identifies you in it.
2: Search Yourself - I do this a couple of times a month. Not in a needy way or to stroke my ego (I’ve a big ego) just kidding. But to see what information major search engines such as Google return on - it can be as simple as typing your name into the engine and see what results come back, remember also to do an image search. A worthwhile way to keep an eye on new content, which is added, is to set up a Google Alert on your name, which will mail you a notification, once anything is added.
3: The Internet is like an elephant. It never forgets.. You might remember I highlighted at the start of this blog about the Youth Police Commissioner posting some unfavourable tweets when she was just 14 years old. As you know those comments came back to haunt her when she was 17, just around the time she landed a £15,000 a year job which could have opened doors for her around the world!. Bummer right? Well the thing is, the Internet is like a library. It catalogues everything we post online into an archive and it only takes someone to carry out some basic key word searches with your name, voila up comes information on you. So keep this in mind as it’s now common for your future employer or a recruiter to just check out your online reputation before deciding to hire you or not. Could mean the difference between the job of a lifetime or stacking shelves. Not that there’s anything wrong with stacking shelves. If you like shelf stacking.
It’s easy in a digital world to shoot yourself in the foot online and not manage your online reputation, and the repercussions can be brutal. On the positive side though, it’s all down to you. You’re in control. In this world reputation counts for a lot, is difficult to build and easy to lose so look after it like your most prized possession. Which is probably your iphone. Look after it like your iphone.
"Online child abusers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their forensic awareness to cover tracks" The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Environmental Scan 2012 - Online Child Safety
But I hear you say…can my child be exposed to these sorts of abusers? Well if you leave your child unsupervised they can become a target. Many children are already engaging in risky online behaviour with most parents having no idea what their kids are really doing online or when using smartphones, tablets or PCs.
Here’s the thing. I speak to parents all the time about Online Safety and keeping children safer online and you know what? When it comes to technology it’s like a no go area - a somewhat glazed expression comes over their faces. As I see it, there is a big, no let me try that again - there is a MASSIVE disconnect between what Parents think their children are doing online and their actual online behaviour.
A study carried out by McAfee, which examines the online habits of preteens, teenagers and young adults found that 54% of the parents surveyed said that they just didn’t have the time to check up on their children’s online behaviour..
Now I for one, am not being judgemental, but as a parent myself, I feel we need to make the time. If we are going to allow our Children to freely use the Internet then we need to start understanding that the Internet is a place where children go. And as children they need to be educated to what is appropriate online and what’s not. As parents we also need to take the opportunity to learn more about what children are doing online and the dangers so we can watch for the signs and keep them safer.
Children are engaging in a whole host of different activities online – there are cases where they can and will get into danger. Did you know that as far back as 2010, 12% of all websites on the Internet were pornographic. What’s even more scary is that in this same year 1 in 7 ‘youths’ reported being solicited for sex online. Now that’s in 2010 - think of where the figures sit now.
In the opening of this blog post I mentioned briefly The Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) Environmental Scan 2012 who are drawing attention to some very concerning developments which parents need to be aware of such as ‘Online child sexual exploitation is fuelled by compulsive internet usage among offenders and online networks of such people’ and that ’Offenders are paying as much as €900 for new child abuse imagery’.
I’m asking all parents who come across this blog to start thinking about this right now. This issue is growing rapidly and is not going away. As parents we can take simple steps in implement safety barriers in our home technology. Contact your childs’ school, ask the Principal to run a Parent’s Information Evening which will allow you to get to grips with how safety settings work on the major social network platforms, identify the warning signs and teach your child positive and appropriate online lifestyle skills to minimise their vulnerability to danger.
It’s not Rocket Science. Together we can help make a difference towards Online Child Safety.
‘Across all risks and with all children talking to someone was the most popular coping strategy’ EU Kids Online (2012) on CyberBullying and negative online experiences. Research has found that building resilience in children and young people is vital in the battle against cyberbullying. Children need to be taught coping strategies early in a world immersed in digital. Parents online confidence was also found to be a factor in reducing cyberbullying as the lines of communication were more open and understood when discussing online topics. As our children become more exposed to technology as a growing part of their daily lives, they are somewhat comfortably numb in this environment and the way in which they are exposed to imagery and behaviour they may not experience so early in the offline world. It is important as Parents and caregivers of young people that we help build their resilience in the online environment. It’s common knowledge that while exploring the Internet is wonderful and exciting, there is a dark side with issues surrounding CyberBullying, Trolling, Sexting and other harmful behaviour which takes place online. Building resilience in children and young people strengthens their ability to cope, adjust or recover from negative online experiences including bullying. It can also help them deal more positively and confidently with peer pressure and negative online experiences. Being resilient gives the young person the ability to bounce back from negative postings or comments, is less likely to display bystanding behaviour and may help the young person become less vulnerable to sexual predators and sexual peer pressure. As Parents, educators and community leaders we want to encourage our children to be confident within, so that if they experience bullying either online or off or have negative experiences they can keep safe, the experience will have less impact on them and they are able to cope, recover and deal with the problem without lasting or devastating consequences, such as cyber related psychological problems, suicide and self harm. So just how can we make our children more resilient when it comes to using technology or things they may come across or see online – here is few areas we can start with:
As technology and the Internet becomes more connected within our everyday lives and how children and young people learn and communicate with each other there are a number of areas which can be improved both at home and within schools in making children more resilient. These are not just limited to young people but also focus on the responsibility of adults. Within schools and the home it is important that we encourage open communication. It is also important that we continue to promote Internet access, use and awareness among adults so that parents and other adults can themselves narrow the gap and feel confident in guiding their children towards responsible use of the Internet . Finally it is paramount that we strive to promote a confident and positive attitude towards being safer online and proactive coping strategies among children’s peer groups. Parents who are confident online users communicating openly with their children who are supported and resilient to pressures and threats in the online as well as the offline world.
The Deal is big. Before you do anything, head on over to the App store and download Vine. You, your business or brand may thank me later.
Now on a serious note, as businesses and marketers seek out new and engaging ways to connect with their audiences, we have seen over the past few months, video starting to take centre stage. (And rightly so). A whole host of new Video Apps have hit the social media space. These videos can present many new golden opportunities. Exciting platforms such as Vine present new ways to create engaging brand content.
Now for those of you who are wondering what on earth Vine is, or indeed have yet to hear the hype about this effective little video platform, you should have already been curious enough from my opening statement to have it downloaded already. In a nutshell.. it’s Twitter’s New App. This exciting new App from Twitter will present those who welcome it with open arms a unique opportunity to create content, which can connect with their customers. Vine allows users to create and most importantly 6-second video clips. Now I hear you say only 6 seconds? Yes only 6! Think of it as the Dynamic Little Brother of 140 Character Twitter if you will.
As we are all now beginning to understand with Twitter those users who can create effective brand messaging in 140 Characters which engage users tend to win big. With Vine it’s no different, its almost like the animated Giff from the early Internet days has made it’s return. You create your video in 6 seconds, which will endlessly loop. Now this is good news because as research has shown on platforms such as Facebook, images and videos from businesses or brands tend to get a lot more traction. With Vine there is an opportunity for Brands to create niche content which it can roll out to it’s customers. On the other hand there is also a big opportunity if Vine continues to grow we will start to see the platform being used more for User Generated Content from the costumers end. It presents those users who embrace it a new way to record and share experiences.
Here are 5 ideas I had on how Businesses can use Vine. First thing I will say and I stress.. Be Playful.
These are of course, only a few ideas - Vine presents a host of opportunities for businesses to create rich media, which will be far more effective and increase audience engagement. What is important with the development of Apps such as Vine & Viddy is that increasingly customers are becoming more overwhelmed by the sheer volume of marketing messages around channels such as Facebook & Twitter - Business & Brands need to find new & more engaging way to reach their customers. Those Businesses & Brands who embrace & incorporate video as part of their marketing strategy in 2013 are going to have a better chance of reaching and connecting with their customers.
Major Brands like GAP, America Airlines and Dove are already using Vine within their digital marketing efforts – here are some of there examples..
America Airlines - Click Here
GAP - Click Here
Its nothing new that many of us now are having our conversations via Social Media and in particular on platforms such as Twitter – I for one are am massive Twitter fan the platform has become an important aspect of how I communicate my messages to a world wide listener base in just 140 Characters but as more and more of our conversations move on-line this potentially can open up a whole new host of problems and as content creators we need to be aware of.
I’ve been lucky enough recently to have been working with a great team of Media Legal advisor’s based in Belfast called McKinty & Wright Solicitor’s & I recently asked them if they would be so kind to take some time out and outline some of the things as tweeters we need to be aware of when engaging with the platform -so have a look at this 10 point check-list to keep your tweets on the right side of the law.
Twitter – Legal Implications
Twitter has become the primary platform for individuals and businesses to connect, share and explore information. There are many advantages when it comes to using Twitter either for your business or personally. The use of Twitter is not however without legal risk and recent cases involving Lord McAlpine & Another have highlighted some potential legal consequences of tweeting certain information.
Some of the issues to bear in mind are the following:-
The law of defamation protects the moral and professional reputation of an individual from unjustified attack. The most common definition of the meaning of defamatory is words that tend to lower the individual in the eyes of like thinking members of society. If a tweet does so, then issues of libel will arise. The author of the tweet may well find him/herself exposed to a claim for defamation and may well be liable unless he/she can avail of one of the limited defences, for example that the words complained off are true or that they are fair comment on a matter of public interest.
2. Data Protection
The law of data protection protects against processing of personal information without permission. If personal information in relation to an individual is revealed on Twitter without obtaining consent from that individual, there may be a breach of data protection legislation. The penalty for breaching data protection legislation in the UK is fines and/or criminal convictions.
3. Confidential Information
Care should be exercised when tweeting, particularly by employees or parties to contracts, not to reveal information in respect of which there is an obligation, contractual or otherwise, to keep confidential.
Users of Twitter commonly use hash tags in conjunction with the name of a business or product. A trademark infringement is a violation of the exclusive rights attaching to a trademark without the authorisation of the trademark owner. Care should be exercised in this context particularly by users who may be seeking to advertise or promote their own products.
5. Malicious falsehood
Apart from the laws of defamation, tweets which seek to damage the business or services of another by revealing false information may result in a liability under the law of malicious falsehood.
6. Indecent, obscene or grossly offensive tweets
Criminal law sanctions may be imposed in relation to tweets which incite racial hatred or are obscene etc.
Paul Chambers, angry at the delays he was facing at Doncaster’s Robin Hood Airport tweeted that he was minded to blow it sky high. The result? Being charged with sending a “menacing electronic communication”, having his house raided, losing his job and fighting a two year legal battle! Thankfully eventually (albeit after costly expense to the tax payer) sense prevailed and Lord Judge overturned the conviction noting it fell into the category of “ridiculous banter” and not, perhaps unsurprisingly, a terrorist threat.
7. Copyright law
Copyright law seeks to protect the rights of an author or originator of certain literary artistic productions. There is a risk that unauthorised use of a copyrighted image as a profile photo, header photo or background may give rise to legal liability.
There appears to be a growing trend for well-known individuals and sports people to be harassed on Twitter. The recent example of a 17 year old boy being arrested as part of an investigation into Twitter and messages sent to the diver Tom Daly should sound a note of caution.
9. Importance of social media policies in the workplace
Employers and organisations such as academic institutions should considering having in place guidelines on the use of social media when using accounts associated with the employer/organisation.
It is sensible to make it clear on your Twitter account that the views expressed are personal opinions and not representative of any other organisation or employer that you are associated with, if that is indeed the case. This will not however necessarily prevent other publication of tweets which may well have adverse implications for your employer or any organisation for which you are associated.
10. Other points to bear in mind
Tweets can be circulated to other media and published therein and therefore they have a circulation far beyond Twitter. Bear this in mind before you tweet. You must always be in a position to stand over any information you have tweeted.
I hope like me readers of this blog post have found it extremely useful, interesting and something we all need to start thinking about. Until I started chatting with the team at McKinty & Wright I was unaware of many of the pitfalls when broadcasting messages via Social Media Platforms. If you require any further information or for an informal chat on the legal aspects of Social Media both for your Business or Personally I’d recommend you get in touch with them on the following contact details: 028 9024 6751 (Paul Mc Donnell) by visiting www.mckinty-wright.co.uk