Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cyberbullying Isn't Just A Schoolyard Problem

Businesses and adults across the globe are also targets of those (whether they have been wronged or not) whose sole purpose for being is to ruin someone's reputation.

We see it every day -- in YouTube and article comments -- terrible untruths, language, and outright bullying behavior. While it may seem to be a societal epidemic (although there can be some aspect of mob mentality) I refuse to believe this is the norm rather than the exception. Just look in your Google Plus, Facebook, and other network feeds as an example. Although if you have these trolls commenting, maybe you need to pick better circles.

As the economy tanked in 2009, a lot of people (and you don't have to look far down a West Phoenix, Arizona street or one in Anytown, the World to see its result) were faced with financial hardship. Some had lost their jobs. If they were entrepreneurs, they had to reinvent their jobs -- if they even had a client base left who wanted their services. At the same time, a new economy -- a digital economy started to entrench on traditional industries.

Needless to say, a lot of people thus ended up owing a lot of money. 

Sometimes, a person might see a glimmer of hope in their situation, and truly believe they will be able to make amends -- pay back everything they owe. They don't file for bankruptcy because that also requires money they don't have, so the collection calls continue and then the judgments appear.

Some creditors are sensitive to the fact that they, too, are on some shaky ground, so their persistence, even through a collection agency, is not as hard-nosed as others. But then you'll get the odd one who decides to make it so that you WON'T be able to repay your debt or maybe any one else's. They physically and mentally take the time and effort to create a web page for the sole purpose of destroying your business. But guess what? It is ILLEGAL. Check into US or Canadian collection and cyberbullying/cyberlibel laws and you will see that a conviction of such an action can mean up to five years in jail!

Cybercrimes are new to our police forces -- some don't even know what it is yet. So only a few departments have the manpower and knowledge in pursuing such a case. Still, getting a police report case file will help you should you choose to file a libel suit down the road. Then you document everything with screenshot.

You'll have a lot of people who believe the post -- even those who know you -- and will judge you for it. But a lot of people, especially the ones who see the rest of your online activity, and the fact that this bully stands alone, will support you and still offer you referrals.

Cyberbullying doesn't just affect school kids and celebrities anymore. It seeks out your neighbor.  

Please feel free to connect with me should you be experiencing this and need a cyberbullying management plan. You are not alone.

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