LinkedIn Update: Tech Firms and Pink T-Shirts


Students protesting with Pink T-Shirts in Victoria, BC

Technology is useful. We use technology in ways that were intended by its creators and in other ways, that’s called innovation. Bullying is rampant. Tech and bullying together can be really brutal. One of the ways to raise awareness and fight against bullying is to have an annual pink T-Shirt, an idea originally from Canada — yeah us. In a similar move, social media companies are working with grassroots organizations around the world to raise awareness for cyber bullying.

Unfortunately sometimes cyber-bullying leads to teen suicide. Those are some of the headlines we think of when we hear of the dangers of cyber-bullying. In the face of suicide, pink t-shirts seem weak. However, pink t-shirts mean that bullying in general, not only the  internet variety, is a topic of public discussion at least once a year, beyond any sad current events. That’s a definite plus for the t-shirts.

As my son’s school principal said: Bullying is a part of life. He goes on to say he isn’t too sure about the effectiveness of anti-bullying campaigns.

And, to stay with the anecdotal personal stuff: When my son (again, it’s great to have  your own pre-teen to get a feel for the ins and outs of tech for the next generation), started playing a game on Instagram that involved voting which friend they preferred, my personal neighbourhood awareness campaign got through to my child (yeah for the parental bond!) but not to anyone else in the next generation of the neighbourhood. I was appalled to see that at age 8, they thought it was fun to say yay or nay to the Instagram profile pictures of their friends.

What is the responsibility of the tech firms in this? It is not enough to raise awareness for crimes in other spaces, we have laws in place that hopefully deter from committing crimes, and when committed and convicted, offenders are punished as prescribed by the laws. What is the legal situation like with regards to cyber bullying, and again, what part of responsibility do the tech platforms have?

Despite quite a few years of cyber bullying, it looks like policy makers and tech companies alike are still at the stage of researching the tools and resources available to them to shut down abusers and harassers. Yes, there is publicity around the issue, and I strongly believe that publicity is a very important step in addressing the issue. However, we are still far from effective law and intervention mechanics. And the tech giants are very protective of their data, and are very hesitant in giving out data on what’s actually going on in their networks.

I like the Guardian’s project “The Web We Want” in the category of raising awareness.

What do you guys think?

 

Published on LinkedIn.

 

 

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