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Bullying on social networks

Bullying isn’t something that just happens in the real world. More and more teenagers are being bullied online through social networking sites. If you are getting threatening messages online, there are a number of ways to get them stopped.

What are online social networks?

There are lots of online social networks that let you chat with other internet users.

You create your own profile and user name and fill in a few details about your likes and dislikes. Once you’ve done that, you can add music, videos and photos to your profile that other people can comment on.

You can also leave messages and comments on your friends’ profiles.

They’re great when you want to chat, share photos and play games with your friends and other people interested in the same things as you.

Social networks you may have heard of include:

  • MySpace
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Bebo
  • FriendFeed
  • YouTube
  • Flickr

Bullying on social networks

Sadly, some people use social networks to tease and bully others.

Cyberbullies can:

  • post abusive messages on your profile wall
  • add rude comments to a picture you've uploaded
  • put a video or photo on their own profile that makes fun of someone and encourage their friends to send it to others

Bullying on social networks can be tough to deal with, especially if a victim is being bullied by the same person at school.

Because it often happens on your own computer at home, online bullying can be very difficult to get away from.

If you feel like you're being bullied on your personal profile, there are some things you can do.

Online friends

If you’re getting bullied by a linked friend, block them or delete them from your list.

You may have fallen out with someone, but think you may become friends again in the future.

If this is the case, blocking them for a short time means you won’t see any comments they may make that might upset you. You can always unblock the same person later.

If you’re getting bullied by someone and they try to become your friend online, you can refuse their friend request. After all, why would you want to chat online with someone you don't get on with in the real world?

Online privacy settings

Remember that most social networks let you control who can see different parts of your profile.

For example, you might only want to let members of your family and your closest friends see your photo albums.

You can even make your whole profile private. Doing this means no-one will be able to find it even if they look for your name in a search engine.

To find out how to control your privacy settings, have a look around your profile homepage for a link to ‘safety tips’ or ‘privacy’.

Fake online profiles

You may see a profile that has been set up by someone pretending to be you.

Fake profiles can be really upsetting, as they can be used to send abuse to others who may believe that it's actually you.

If you see a fake profile, report it to the social network's customer services department as soon as possible and ask them to delete it.

Some networks also have a 'report profile' button, which you can use if the profile is fake or offensive.

Other general social media tips

If someone is bullying you on your own social profile page, you should:

  • keep and save any bullying emails or images you have been sent
  • take a screenshot of any comments that are threatening, but then delete them so you don’t have to read them again
  • make a note of the time and date that messages or images were sent, along with any details you have about the sender
  • try changing your online user ID or nickname
  • not reply to any bullying messages or get into any online arguments

Don’t forget that anything you post online can be seen by anyone. This includes your parents, your boss or your teachers.

Use your common sense and think before you publish anything on your profile.

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