June 14, 2015

KVR Gaming Feature: Dealing With Cyberbullying (Whatsapp)

Cyberbullying occurs across several avenues of online/mobile communication, far too many to accurately gauge. There are millions upon millions of websites on the internet, so dealing with each one will be impossible.

As such, I've decided to focus on a few prominent websites and use them as an example for dealing with cyberbullying across any platform. The most prominent social networks will be talked about in the coming weeks, new articles added as I see fit.

This is an ongoing series, so feel free to direct me to any sites which have a reputation of being frequent habitats for the ever-present cyberbully.

(Just don't link me to porn, okay?)

Basic Overview: Whatsapp is an instant messaging service for mobile phones, allowing users to send messages of any length whilst using a relatively small amount of data. Users can send photos, videos, Voice Notes, phonebook contacts, and even create "groups", where multiple users can send messages to each other in a highly social environment.

Danger Zones: Once again, a person with any experience with human behaviour may already see the dangers associated with the aforementioned features. Users can send photos of anything to other people. And by "anything", I mean ANYTHING.

Parents may have heard of the ever-growing phenomenon of teen sexting, with under-age children sending nudes to each other across social platforms due to their blossoming sexuality, or just as a desperate bid for attention.

Pornographic videos can also be sent to users, or posted on the aforementioned Whatsapp groups. Porn of any calibre can be sent to users, which means that one can easily receive an incredibly gnarly video from other Whatsapp users.

Whatsapp works around having another person's phone number. If one doesn't have their number, you can't message them. Users may feel safe because of this, but in the author's own experience, this is hardly something to ease your mind.

Your number is posted for all to see on Whatsapp Groups, which allows for unknown users to get your number and harass you as they see fit. The author has had some rather frightening phone pranks from select people, mostly due to being part of a Whatsapp group at one point.

(In case you want to know, I had one phone prank where someone phoned me and yelled something about there being "blood everywhere" and seeking help to clean up the "bodies". Needless to say, I was pretty scared for about a solid minute before finding out that it was a prank.)

Last but not least, if a user on Whatsapp is someone you've been having personal issues with, they are free to send demeaning and degrading messages as they see fit, once again allowing for users to be relentlessly bullied.

This is especially prominent on the Groups, where hordes of users can choose to attack a single user for one reason or another. It's also easy to say something one considers innocuous in a group chat, only to be viciously attacked in return by someone who finds your comment offensive.

Defensive Positions: While this may sound incredibly scary, the aforementioned events happen rather seldom for an average person. It all depends on who your contacts are.

Whatsapp adds the ability to block users a la Facebook, preventing them from ever messaging you again. One can also choose to exit any groups if the users therein are harassing you. Additionally, one can report the users to the police if any serious death threats are made. Just be sure to take a screenshot of the offending chat and feel free to report.

There is one more danger, however: Users are still able to see your number regardless of whether or not you blocked them, so they are able to keep harassing you via phone calls or SMS. Users can easily get a call-blocker on their respective phone's App Stores, but this is still to be noted.

Be very careful with who you add on Whatsapp, period.

Outro: Alright, that concludes another Cyberbullying article. I hope this rather short post helped and informed you. I'll see you again next week with another article.

Kyle out!

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