The Japanese government is on the right track to introduce new laws to make courts the decision-makers as to whether or not information relevant to cyberbullying cases should be disclosed. But in order to combat cyberbullying, support from social media services companies is of critical importance.
Even if information about the perpetrators is found, the reality is that a lot of victims do not have the courage to take the first step and report their case. They need someone who can lend them useful assistance and understand their situation to fight the battle alongside them.
Social media services companies have the responsibility to ensure that their users are given sufficient protection against cyberbullying, while observing the importance of the freedom of expression. Frequent occurrence of threatening and defamatory words in public posts and comments are signs of cyberbullying, which could be easily located by use of artificial intelligence. Of course, private posts should not be censored, lest being seen as a menace to the freedom of speech. That said, posts that will appear in public domains should be subject to some level of monitoring in avoidance of the social media becoming a hotbed for “keyboard warriors” to veil their real identity and hurt the victims.
Once cyberbullying cases are identified, social media services companies should contact the victims to provide assistance or report the cases to authorities for investigation before it is too late. Social media services companies are the only ones which have the resources and capability to do so. Without their active support, no matter what policy is in place, the victims will still live under fear.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.
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