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Can anything be done to stop cyberbullying?

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These days with the ability to access your entire social network from a laptop or a smartphone, it is simple to connect with friends anywhere, anytime. But what about those who abuse their access to social networks and use them to intimidate and bully? Cyberbullying is getting worse - and more difficult for victims to get away from. Can anything be done to stop this? Reg Sherren finds out.

Steps to help prevent internet harassment
(from The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety)
  • Use a gender neutral e-mail address if you have a choice.
  • Make your e-mail password at least seven characters long and ensure that is is a combination of letters and numbers. The best passwords don't spell anything and don't follow a logical pattern.
  • Change your passwords frequently.
  • Review your e-mail signature (the block of text that gets added automatically to the end of an outgoing message). It should provide enough information about you so that you can be identified, but not so much that you are providing your e-mail recipients with personal information.
  • Use encryption (e.g. PGP (Pretty Good Privacy)) for person-to-person e-mail to prevent someone from impersonating you or reading your e-mail. To read some FAQs about PGP, click here.  
  • Watch for 'red-flags,' for example someone asking where you live or where you work.
  • Be very cautious about meeting online acquaintances in person. If you do choose to meet, do so in a public place and take along a friend or business associate.
  • Set up two e-mail accounts. One used for business correspondence and one that has another name for use in discussion groups, etc. Change or cancel your secondary account if you start receiving too much unwanted mail. 
  • If you want to remain anonymous, do not list your e-mail address on any web pages or give your e-mail address when filling out forms on web pages.
  • Use an anonymous browser to browse the web. Web sites collect all sorts of information about visitors (e.g. what web browser you used, your Internet Service Provider and potentially your e-mail address). Anonymous browsers offer varying degrees of security, some are free and some are not.
  • Discuss your safety and privacy with your Internet Service Provider. Seek their help and advice.
  • Make sure your Internet Service Provider, discussion groups and chat networks have an Acceptable Use Policy (no harassment permitted) and that the policy is enforced by the administrator of the site.
  • Discuss Internet privacy and safety with your organization's Internet technology specialist. Follow any policies or procedures your organization has in place for Internet communication.
For more information on cyberbullying and what to do if you are being targeted, visit one of these websites:

Media Awareness Network