In September, after a year of being bullied online, Rebecca Sedwick threw herself off a three-story cement silo, sparking an international freak-out over the responsibility social media networks like Ask.fm have in fostering this kind of harassment. But for Rebecca’s family, friends, and neighbors, the problem isn’t technology or opportunistic startups — it’s people.
Five weeks after Rebecca’s death, Lakeland Sheriff Grady Judd arrested two girls from Crystal Lake Middle School and charged both with aggravated stalking, a felony. Although they were minors, Judd released their names: Guadalupe Shaw, a 14-year-old who went to school with Rebecca, who was the purported ringleader, and 12-year-old Katelyn Roman, her accomplice. Judd claimed they had organized a network of up to 16 other teenagers who verbally and physically threatened Rebecca in school and then bombarded her social media accounts — particularly via her Ask.fm page and an app called Kik Messenger — with cruel comments, many urging her to kill herself. And that was what elevated Rebecca’s story from a small-town tragedy to global cautionary tale for an unchecked epidemic of cyberbullying.
Both Kik and Ask.fm are especially popular with teenagers desperate for more private social networks than Facebook, which is to be expected — teens don’t want to hang out with their parents, especially on the internet. Kik Messenger is a mobile instant messaging app that gives users a discreet way to chat and share videos and pictures. According to figures from this spring, more than 200,000 people sign up for the Kik app daily, and 50 million currently use it. Kik connects users with Facebook friends and people in their phone’s address book, giving them the ability to anonymously message one another. Friends and family say Rebecca often wasn’t even sure whom she was being bullied by.
via “That Dead Girl”: A Family And A Town After A Cyberbullied 12-Year-Old’s Suicide.
It was only a matter of time before the Internet started to monetize humiliation. In this case, the time was early 2011, when mug-shot Web sites started popping up to turn the most embarrassing photograph of anyone’s life into cash. The sites are perfectly legal, and they get financial oxygen the same way as other online businesses — through credit card companies and PayPal. Some states, though, are looking for ways to curb them. The governor of Oregon signed a bill this summer that gives such sites 30 days to take down the image, free of charge, of anyone who can prove that he or she was exonerated or whose record has been expunged. Georgia passed a similar law in May. Utah prohibits county sheriffs from giving out booking photographs to a site that will charge to delete them.
via Mugged by a Mug Shot Online – NYTimes.com.
(CNN) — A college student was arrested Thursday for allegedly hijacking the webcams of young women — among them reigning Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf — taking nude images, then blackmailing his victims to send him more explicit material or else be exposed.
Jared James Abrahams, a 19-year-old computer science student from Temecula, California, surrendered on Thursday to the FBI on federal extortion charges, the agency announced. Authorities say he victimized young women surreptitiously, by taking control of their computers then photographing them as they changed out of their clothes.
via Arrest in ‘sextortion’ case involving Miss Teen USA Cassidy Wolf – CNN.com.
17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons died after a suicide attempt in April. Her picture was then used in an online dating ad.
Facebook has apologized for a highly inappropriate dating ad that appeared on its site, which used a picture of 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons, a victim of bullying and alleged gang-rape who attempted suicide in April. The attempt left Parsons in a coma, and she died a few days later when her family took her off of life support.
via Facebook apologizes after dead, bullied teen’s picture appears in dating ad – Salon.com.
9 Teenage Suicides In The Last Year Were Linked To Cyber-Bullying On Social Network Ask.fm
Wednesday morning a 12-year-old girl’s body was found after she leapt to her death at an abandoned cement silo, unable to take anonymous harassment anymore.
via 9 Teenage Suicides In The Last Year Were Linked To Cyber-Bullying On Social Network Ask.fm.
Revenge Porn Could Soon Be Illegal In CaliforniaThe California Assembly is considering a bill that would make it illegal for people to share explicit images of their ex.
via Revenge Porn Could Soon Be Illegal In California.