How can we organize to tackle cyberbullying?

In a digital era where online platforms are prominent spaces for everyone, cyberbullying and trolling have become a harsh reality. The cases of cyberbullying are rapidly increasing in India. Technological barriers make it more complicated and act as a hindrance in dealing with tackling the issue of cyberbullying. As cyberbullying is difficult to track, many victims feel helpless and alone, and are unable to cope with the situation, especially if the bullying is personal. The cyberbullying can take a person in a stage of depression and anxiety. In many cases, it also results in developing suicidal tendencies in the victims.

On 1st September, we at Haiyya took leadership on this issue by hosting a training camp – ‘Post. Don’t Rost’ in collaboration with Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) and 91Springboard. The idea of the camp was to provide training on organizing skills to the participants so that they can take leadership and act on the issue of cyberbullying. Our knowledge partner SFLC shared the different measures that we can use to make ourselves safe and avoid trolling.

Some Key Takeaways:

What is private and what is public online?: In the online world, while we might think there are private spaces, it is only to a certain extent, as essentially, nothing online is private. Shashikanth from SFLC shared that whatever one uploads, shares or searches online, it can be tracked. So it is important to be aware of what one is sharing and what information are they putting online. Are they personal details? Is it necessary to share it on social media? He also shared some measures that someone can use to avoid trolling and bullying online.

  • Secure your all devices like laptop, phone or desktop with random or a complex password and change the password frequently. Do not reuse any password.
  • Enable 2-factor authentication and be careful about privacy protection like do not install app or download file from untrusted source. Always mind your permissions on the app.
  • Use privacy respecting search engines like DuckDuckGo, Startpage etc. and app like signal, Jitsi, 10minutesmail.com to avoid giving your personal details.

Report your complaint by using legal provisions
Generally, people try to solve trolling cases on the table without filling a case. As no real action is taken, this can result in the troller feeling confident to do the same thing again. There are legal provisions that exist, that can be used to punish perpetrators, and we should use them. Anjali Prabhakar, Haiyya’s campaign manager and a lawyer shared that the Information Technology Act 2000 was introduced to deal with these issues. There are remedies under IT Act 2000, Sec 66A, Sec 66C, Sec 66D, Sec 66E, Sec 67, Sec 67A, Sec 67B, Sec 67C and Sec 45 which can criminalize any kind of online harassment and bullying and you can book someone by using these laws.

Identify your people: A campaign cannot always be run alone by a person, one will need capacity to achieve success and a big win. To scale any campaign, identifying your people and the resources in your community is very important. The action depends on the diversity of your community and the resources they have. In order to identify your people and their power, organizing plays a very important role. The same thing applies to a cyberbullying campaign, and during the camp, participants identified their people and their resources. Their target community is young people (as they are most affected), lawyers, teachers, media, police and cyber experts. Resources like helpline no., laws, cyber expertise, time, network of young groups etc. If one can identify their target audience and the resources they have, build collective power and drive change.

Using your power: Identifying your power is one thing but how you will use it depends on your organising skills, your leadership model etc. To function effectively in a team, understanding leadership is key to success. Interdependent leadership model makes any campaign sustainable and can be replicated. When it comes to cyberbullying, the collective power you build by identifying your people can be used to power over on police to file complain and take action against, judiciary to punish the tollers and government to take this issue seriously and make strong laws to fight against the cyberbullying.

By Alok Ranjan
Alok Ranjan is the Grassroots Campaigner working with Haiyya Foundation. He closely works on the issues like gender, environment and health.

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