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Recently we’ve come across a number of ‘name and shame’ style sites which offer to publish the names of cyberbullies and shame them on the internet. They’ve been around for many years, but recently there’s been a spate of more ‘monetized’ and aggressive operations. In our experience, these sites – while tempting to victims who are at rock bottom – only ever make the situation worse. Alarmingly, some of these sites then charge to remove posts when victims later change their mind and want the information removed.
Here’s a list of what can go wrong:
- By ‘naming and shaming’ the cyberbully, even via a third party website, the victim can unwittingly ruin the chances of criminal prosecution. Law enforcement will look at the naming and shaming and decide the victim is as at fault as the cyberbully.
- The most efficient way to remove abuse on social media is to demonstrate to Facebook, Twitter etc that the abuse and ‘contact’ is one-sided. Responding in any way makes it more likely the victim’s complaint will be ignored.
- ‘Naming and shaming‘ on a website where the sole purpose is to harm the reputation of individuals who may or may not be bullies or stalkers, is in itself a form of cyberbullying and harassment. The victim might find themselves prosecuted or the subject of a lawsuit. The best people to decide what is cyberstalking or harassment and what isn’t is law enforcement – not a random website found on Google, Twitter or Facebook.
- Bullies want exposure. They want their name on ‘naming and shaming’ sites. They want to know how much pain they have caused the victim. Above all, they want an excuse to respond, attack, and harm – and best of all they want to claim the victim provoked it. If you use a ‘name and shame’ site you are giving the bully exactly what they want. Repeat – exactly what they want.
- All cyberstalking and reputation management professionals know that ‘naming and shaming’ sites are a really bad idea. No reputable organization would every recommend using one. Neither would law enforcement, lawyers or mental health professionals. So who is running these sites? None of the above, certainly.
- After ‘naming and shaming’ – as an act of desperation – the victim realizes it wasn’t such a good idea and decided to remove the post. How? They contact the website. No reply – or even worse – the website says, ‘No.” Or even worse, the website asks for money. Or worst of all – something we’ve seen on three such sites in the last two years – the website says the cyberbully has filed a counterclaim – in other words, they’ve claimed the victim is a bully – and the website decides to publish both ‘naming and shaming’ posts.
- Never respond to cyberbullying. One-sided attacks are much easier to delete from the internet.
- Never respond to cyberbullying. One-sided attacks are much easier for law enforcement to prosecute.
- Never respond to cyberbullying. One-sides attacks are much more likely to result in successful civil legal action – for example, defamation, harassment, cyberbullying and when securing a restraining order.
- The best way to defeat a cyberbully is to leave them in the dark. When they get no emotional response many give up. When the only response they get is from faceless authority – ie websites removing their content, social media shutting down their accounts, Google removing their search results the Police locking them up, and the court issuing an injunction or restraining order – they stop. When they realize that whatever they do just gets removed, doesn’t get a response or lands them in trouble with the law – they stop.
Finally – if you really want to ‘name and shame’ a cyberbully:
- Let a court of law name and shame your cyberbully.
- Let the press, TV and news media name and shame your convicted or restrained cyberbully.