Cyber bulling has become a growing problem, and one advisor to the U.K.’s prime minister urges Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) to block anonymous messages. She believes this will cut down on how much bullying occurs online.
Facebook and Twitter can help battle bullying
Clair Perry, who is U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s child Internet safety adviser, says neither Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) nor Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is doing enough to battle online bullying. Rowena Mason, political correspondent for The Guardian, reports that Perry spoke before a hearing with the House of Commons Media Committee. She said if both social networks block messages from anonymous users, bullying on both of them would be reduced.
Perry also says there should be some kind of verification process for users so that people can easily see if those they receive messages from have provided their real names or are using an anonymous account. Perry herself received threats through Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) over the summer, and she said anonymity of use makes it easy for anyone to threaten anyone over a social network.
“People post about how they’d like to rape you and kill you because they think you don’t know who you are,” Perry is quoted by the newspaper’s website as saying. “If there was some way of the company knowing and being prepared to verify that identify and to show you that verification, I think it would lead to a diminuation in that kind of behaviour.”
Prosecuting trolling on Facebook and Twitter
She also advocated prosecution for “trolling,” which is basically being exceptionally mean, threatening or rude to people online just because you can. She called the practice “deeply misogynistic” and said she thinks prosecuting for “pretty vile behaviour” would help the situation.
Ed Vaizey, who is a culture minister with the Conservative Party in the U.K., said it might be worth sitting down with Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) to discuss the suggestions put forth by Perry. Executives from both social media sites were at the hearing. An executive from Twitter said it’s easy for anyone to use an alias online, while one from Facebook said it requested that users sign up with their real names but didn’t check anyone out unless someone complained about them.
Facebook did say earlier this year that it would do more to combat hate speech on the network, particularly in relation to gender issues. The social network has vowed to “do better” in removing these comments, although it is unclear at this point how effective its efforts are.