Stop The Harassment

stoptheharassment

Earlier this week two girls in Florida were charged in a case of a young teen who killed herself after a series of hateful texts and continued harassment from her peers. It is rare to see charges pressed against people in cases like this, but it is becoming more common as the victims and their family speak out against such abuse.

In the age of social media, bullying has strayed from the school yard to the digital world – a place where victims are more exposed than ever. It’s becoming harder to ignore the verbal taunts when the world at large is able to weigh in, in defense or continued harassment of the people being picked up. And once those words are out on the Internet, it is hard to make them go away. And it’s not like the bullying stops when you turn into an adult.

On Facebook a page has popped up targeting overweight costumers. While only a scant number of people have “liked” the page since it was created in July, it’s now making the rounds on the Internet as yet another example of bullying in a community that is rife with sexual harassment and trolling. The page has a disclaimer, stating “EVERYTHING POSTED HERE IS A JOKE, AND IF YOU THINK ANY WORD HERE IS SERIOUS YOU ARE A FOOL. Disclaimer for you, curvy ladies.” – though it’s obvious the intention is anything but humorous.

harassmentreport

Update: As of 1:57ET it appears the page in question has been removed by Facebook.

Several people have reported this page to Facebook, but it seems the company chooses to ignore the harmful and hateful intentions of the community. After being prompted by a friend of mine to report it myself, I was met with a response from Facebook telling me that they found nothing that violates their Community Standards. We can’t insult people based on race, gender or sexuality, but according to Facebook, it’s okay to pick on people who are deemed overweight. Even though Facebook’s own Community Standards states that they will now allow bullying or harassment on their pages:

Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment. We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals. Repeatedly targeting other users with unwanted friend requests or messages is a form of harassment.

There is never a case where it is okay to pick on someone and belittle them to further your own amusement. This is not a case of satire or sarcasm – it’s just being mean. With social media being as prominent as it is, it’s nearly impossible to escape from bullying. Once it reaches the web, it feels as if the person is under constant scrutiny, that there is no safe place to hide.

One of the long-standing tropes of nerd life is that, at some point, all of us have been picked on and bullied for being an outcast. I find that to be less and less true with the younger generations, and also liking comic books and anime is now a “cool” thing. But, you can’t deny that a group of people has cropped up who feel the need to tear down their fellow fan. It’s most prevalent in the cosplay community, where people are constantly judged for putting themselves out there simply for dressing up as their favorite character. In a community that is supposed to be about celebrating our love for a genre, it often devolves into a handful of people who feel the need to say hurtful and cruel words to justify some warped view of what the world should consist of.

The sexually explicit comments, the derogatory statements about a person’s weight or race, and the the simple act of calling someone out for being a fan needs to stop. Both in our fan community and as a society. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but what right does a person have to share that opinion if it causes harm to another person? It is a question I long to ask every person who has ever told a person they are wrong or disgusting for being something different from the norm. And companies like Facebook should shoulder some responsibility to make sure people have a safe place to go on social media. No one is asking for the Internet police, but if you are going to hold a policy of community standards, it should include an outright ban on all harassing and harmful groups and pages.

—-Update—-

As of 1:57ET it appears the page in question has been removed by Facebook.

Advertisement






36 Responses to Stop The Harassment

  1. Perhaps there is also a trend in our generation towards people becoming incensed by things that were never meant to be cruel? A knee jerk reaction to a harsh truth that maybe, just maybe, someone else simply doesn’t care for them.

    • Making a page solely to poke fun at people who are just enjoying their hobbies is not simply jesting. Time and a place and a context is required for these things to be funny.

    • No, there is a trend in our generation for people to be cruel and angry behind their mask of anonymity. It’s causing the internet to become a hostile, dangerous place, where vulnerable people can be subject to horrendous abuse on a daily basis that can push them to suicide. People are getting fed up with it, so they are taking action and that’s great. How you can not find things like this cruel is beyond me. You must be a pretty poor example of a human yourself.

  2. Its a sad day that freedom of speech just gets trampled on. Do I think this page is in appropriate maybe, but its not my place to judge in reality its no one’s place. Who ever created the page has a right to express what they feel. Once we start taking away those rights when does it stop?

    Who ever create the page is a jerk no doubt about it, but when was the last time anyone said or did anything insensitive to someone else?

    All this will do is bring more unwanted attention from special interest groups and in the end all it will do is throw up more restrictions and censor more person opinions.

    Then pretty soon everything we say or do has to be so politically correct no one is going to care anymore.

    • It’s one thing to have freedom of speech. Sure, the owner of the page can think and say whatever they want. But to take someone’s photo without their permission and to post it to be ridiculed, I think that’s absolutely inappropriate. What people seem to forget is, yes, you can say or think whatever you want… but these photos are the intellectual property of REAL people. The maker of this page went out of their way to find photos of cosplayers, to insult them and invite others to ridicule them, and to discourage them from doing something they love, just because someone doesn’t find them aesthetically pleasing. This is no different than someone taking pictures of an African American and saying rude and derogatory things about them in public. But if that were the case a lot more people would be upset.

      • You can’t say Freedom of Speech is great “But” there shouldn’t be “but” in that sentence its either you do have Freedom to say what you want or your dont. The guy was a jerk for doing what he did no doubt it but why give him any attention?

        As for the intellectual property angle you are right to an extent, if the person who created the sight took the pic of the people from there personal page without permission then yes he is breaking rules. But if he took the pic from a public forum or website other than there own then that person that uploaded the photo gave up there rights simply because the site or forum now can do what they like to create “web hits” which they use to generate money from ads sales.

        No one is saying they should dress up if anything more power to them and I bet if you ask them in person they know how they look like. They also know how to ignore the haters that criticize them.

    • Ok, you are in favor of the person to have the page that makes fun of people for being over weight and in a cosplay costume.
      Let me see how you feel about this, if page subject was of a different matter, just so you can understand your thinking is wrong.

      Now what if the page was about making fun of people that are wheelchair bound because of MS? Do you think the person, that would create a page making fun of those kind of people still shouldn’t have their page shut down, for insensitivity? If they kept it up, would you not say it was bullying of a group of people? Or would you claim they have every right, per the first amendment, to make fun of the wheelchair bound?

      So no this is not a knee jerk response, it is a response to hateful people, that think, since you are not stick thin you are free game to harass.

      • How is what he did worse than jokes a comedian makes on stage? If you like I can pull up years worth of jokes said by some of our greatest comics on Youtube. Guarantee you I can find jokes about handcap, elderly, overweight, etc etc.

        What is the difference? Where do you say Freedom of Speech is okay for this person not okay for another?

        And yes I know you are going to say the Comedian is just saying jokes, he/she doesn’t mean to hurt anyone’s feelings. True but you know you can also pull up articles on Special Interest Groups so feel those same Comedians words do hurt them. I have been in some clubs where people where offended got up and left, it happens.

        Again not saying what the guy did was right he is a jerk but why give him an ounce of attention. Let him act like a dumb baby and ignore him.

    • Freedom of speech references the right of the people to express themselves without government regulation.

      There are 0 allowances for what can and can’t be regulated by a business, corporation, social network etc.

      You’re absolutely correct that, in the United States, the people who created this page have the legal right to express themselves. Facebook also has some rights as a corporation, namely the right to regulate the service they provide as they see fit. In this case, it looks like (no comment from FB yet) FB decided they’d rather not have hate speech cluttering up their service and responded accordingly.

      Regarding this statement:

      “Then pretty soon everything we say or do has to be so politically correct no one is going to care anymore.”

      I’d rather live in a world where we’re considerate of other people, particularly strangers, feelings than one where even one child dies as a result of the stress associated with being bullied.

      I imagine you’ll have a better appreciation for this perspective once you’re old enough to have nieces, nephews, or children of your own.

      Cheers,
      Tony

      • Everyone would love to live a perfect world, but lets be honest here we don’t live a perfect world. Once you accept that you may understand that there are alot of people on the internet who are jerks, who have miserable lives and want other people to be miserable with them. The one thing you can’t do is give them attention just move on with your happy life love your family and friends and just ignore all the haters.

        • While, I appreciate your willingness to turn the other cheek (although based on your other posts you seem to have some opinions that are based on a poor understanding of what Freedom of Speech actually means), I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to affect change in many internet communities regularly and choose to do so.

          I also don’t really understand how your stance towards people who disagree with you can be “ignore them” but you’ve got more comments on this thread than anyone else. Specifically you represent 17.6% of the total comments in this thread (unless I’m reading the names on the posts incorrectly).

          Cheers,
          Tony

    • I’m sick of hearing people talk about freedom of speech who have no clue how it actually works. Freedom of speech protects you from THE GOVERNMENT censoring you, not from Facebook or any other entity, nor does it protect you from the social consequences of the things you say. Yes, it grants you the right to say whatever it is you want to say publicly, but Facebook isn’t public, it’s a private company. Learn what your rights are before you start getting butthurt about them being “taken away.”

      • The Facebook is a private company but what you say and do on it is very public. Ask yourself them then how is it when you go on a job interview these days a common practice office do is search for you on social networks. From there they can pull up alot of info, if what you say is true then they shouldn’t be allow to do this.

        Courts can use what say on Twitter & Facebook against you in a court of law, if these companies are “private companies” then how is it so public?

    • All in all… if you have to call “freedom of speech” to defend something you just said, rather than defend it out from the subject you are trying to discuss, something with the original argument is fundamentally wrong. “Freedom of speech” is not “Freedom to be a dick”. And if a site (like facebook) has rules for what you can and cannot say, you did at one point agree to them when signing up. Then can’t come back flailing some outdated American amendments around when you break those rules and complain about how you get censored or how your freedoms are being threatened.

      If you have an opinion worth sharing, do it in an appropriate way at an appropriate place. Facebook is not 4chan, flashback or any other more open and free forums.

  3. There were a lot if us that were dealing with FB and the reporting system to get this page stopped. The DragonCon group went after it hard! I have a lot of FB replies and I know so many others that do as well. Sadly it went over 100 likes as we were working to stop it. Our working to stop it brought out other negative people who support making fun of people who were enjoying being these characters. I do not understand how people can be hateful to people who are so thrilled to be in costume. As a Cosplayer and Costumer I can say that the happiness you feel while in costume is almost the same as the high you feel when you reach the finish line of a race. It is amazing! Thank You Chuck, Tiffany, Dianne, Charley for bringing to our attention. And so many others – YAY!

    • Thank YOU, Michelle. I sincerely believe that the ranks of the DCon group had a pretty big hand in this. I’m also glad to see there’s more of us out there who will actually *DO* something about things like this.

    • its sad what happenend to that girl, and i feel anxiety… but still i dont believe in freedom being condemned, in these cases ppl should talk about it instead of hidding it for themself to the point it kills them, and the internet is honestly big, enough for finding a site where you will be accepted for how you are, and will help you, not “reporting” and feeling fine for killing freedom… its not right, the bully just stopped using facebook as his tool, it will find another one, cus no1 is opossing him, he just got reported…

    • Michelle… thank you for your efforts and the others that helped get that page shut down. If I could suggest that you and others maybe check out the Obesity Action Coalition at http://obesityaction.org – they do a lot of advocacy work around issues involved folks with obesity. They also have their bias busters where they tackle stuff specific to weight stigma and bias, like this FB page.

      This situation shows there is strength in numbers, and the OAC could use as much support as they can get.

  4. While I don’t condone the abuse or harrassment of individuals, frankly all I’m hearing on this article, and those like it, is incessant whining. It is a tragedy when people can’t handle it and do things like she did, but that’s precisely the problem. if you don’t have the backbone to tolerate negativity, you shouldn’t be on these mediums at all let alone reporting it. Reporting things does not solve the problem, it only fuels your own anxieties and issues. People need to know how to handle the issues themselves. I don’t like that FB, a good amount of the time, ignores issues but i think FB understands that as they will still give helpful advice, real advice, on how to handle an issue.

    Bullying, to a degree, is wrong, but bitching and whining about it happening doesn’t make anyone better, if anything it makes it worse.

  5. Everyone has a right to remove themselves from the internet. If you dont like cyber bullying get off Facebook or whatever site you are on. If I dont like getting harassed at a particular bar, I stop going to that bar. Its a simple rule. People these days are more stupid than ever, they are over sensitive and WAY too PC. Life is not all sunshine and roses.

  6. Tolerance means tolerance, no matter how distasteful that tolerance may be to your own values. That’s the general problem with “political correctness” and substituting one form of intolerance with another.

    Is making fun — even cruel jokes — of a class of people the same as bullying an individual or a small group repeatedly, continually, intimately, and with their full knowledge? I don’t think fairly random postings made from both geographic and social distance reach the same bar.

    True progress is made by social ties establishing (and changing) the boundaries of what is acceptable, and we should not turn to government or business to enforce community standards when it should instead be the community which is constantly adjusting those standards in a positive way.

    The same censorship that can hide the views of a group you don’t agree with can also hide the views of currently fringe groups you support and who, if they remain hidden since they don’t meet the current community standards, would never gain enough exposure to make the positive changes they often lead to.

    Sqeaumishness over sex could’ve certainly, without protections of speech from both public and private censorship, kept both pedophilia and homosexuality as taboo topics — and hidden away from most people, they would have remained conflated by the general public and both viewed as bad. Letting both organizations like NAMBLA and gay rights groups be exposed, however, has let the public learn the differences and legitimately conclude whats is increasingly acceptable (consensual sex) and not (between those who lack the maturity or other ability to provide consent). Let what you dislike be shown, let the Nazis march in Skokie — it will only reinforce the dislike and draw sharper distinctions between good and bad behavior.

  7. If no one stands up to these bullies they will keep doing it and we will see more suicides like the one recently here in Florida. It doesn’t matter if it is on the internet or in person. If I see someone being bullied I am going to stand up to them. NO ONE deserves the derogatory insults that this person was posting with photos they found on the internet.

    You say for the tormented to just leave Facebook, leave the internet, that is like telling someone to move out of town, change their habits, not do what they enjoy because they are being bullied. This makes them a double victim and makes my stomach turn.

  8. so it’s okay for comedians to make fun of Muslims, African Americans, Jews, Christians and excessively Large folk, but when it comes to shit on the internet it’s classed as ‘Abuse’. for one i think the intrusive attempts at dulling the populations creative imagination and to those who wish to become inspiring comedians is a downright intrusion of the peoples right of freedom of speech!
    if people want to ‘troll’ or give ‘abuse’ to a singular person then it completely their right to do so. hence the perception of FREEDOM OF SPEECH!
    if i’m out on the town and happen to laugh to myself and my friends about a so called ‘Fat Cosplay Person’ then it’s perfectly fine but because the internet is now becoming governed and intruded upon it’s classed as an offence. if anything i personally find it an offence that OTHER PEOPLE are allowed to class my interpretation of ‘comedy’ as abuse, bullying or otherwise!
    this needs to be forgotten and then moved on from!

    People have to right to express their opinions and their views despite who it offends or who it conflicts with.

    if this was the way of all of humanity then i believe if anything all of humanity is within the boundaries of being an abusive person!

    no one in the world can say they’ve never looked at someone and hypocritically judged someone!

    Rant over and thankyou for reading, just take this into consideration when you next criticize anyone or anything related to cyber-bullying, abuse or singling some one out!

    • Ian,

      Legally, a person has the right to say what they wish as long as it does not cause immanent harm (as the Supreme Cort’s example of yelling “Fire” in a theater). However, Facebook, Twitter, Google Circles, etc are privately held businesses. They have the right to censor any dialogue they deem they should.

      In this case, Facebook deemed it best to have the page removed. They didn’t legally have to, but they choose to do so. I personally applaud them for removing it. I have seen examples of what this kind of bulling, especially in our cosplay world, can do. Cosplay is meant to be a fun and free form of self representation. Its a way to embrace something we love.

      Yes, of course people will judge. We all have and we all will. However, just because we judge, for good or ill, it does not give people the right to abuse someone with their words and actions. I may think Jeff looks ridiculous in that Aquaman Bikini cosplay he made, but Jeff has every right to enjoy what he has made. More importantly, if Jeff were bullied and abused by someone, then yes, people should step in for him.

      That’s what the team here and the Dragon*Con Army did. They stepped in and thankfully, Facebook agreed.

    • “if i’m out on the town and happen to laugh to myself and my friends about a so called ‘Fat Cosplay Person’ then it’s perfectly fine but because the internet is now becoming governed and intruded upon it’s classed as an offence.”

      So you’re essentially saying it’s fine if you don’t get caught?

      Do you feel the same about theft? About vandalism? About murder?

      Ok, maybe the last one is a bit of an extreme comparison… but yea, there are lines. I speed.. it’s illegal.. but I do so. So when it comes to teasing/demeaning/being bigoted towards someone based on their weight/appearance is ok… as long as you are only revealed as being so to “x” number of people?

      And yes, this is a form of bigotry… one of the few that seems to still be socially acceptable.

  9. I can’t believe this needs to be said again, but once again…I’m sick of hearing people talk about freedom of speech who have no clue how it actually works. Freedom of speech protects you from THE GOVERNMENT censoring you, not from Facebook or any other entity, nor does it protect you from the social consequences of the things you say. Yes, it grants you the right to say whatever it is you want to say publicly, but Facebook isn’t public, it’s a private company. Learn what your rights are before you start getting butthurt about them being “taken away.”

  10. NOPE!

    Nobody can MAKE you do anything. Words have no power except in the mind.

    I am sick of hearing about these kids who were “bullied” into suicide. No, they made a choice, and you are involving other, innocent people in an effort to explain an occurrence that you obviously know nothing about if it was allowed to go so far.

    • yea.. cause as soon as we reach puberty we instantly know how to handle life in it’s entirety. We stop caring about what others think about us, what they do and say have no influence on our behaviors, and know how to deal with all the emotions that occur when others do things like this. Sticks and stones and all that…

  11. These are the sort of things that has stoped me for years to cosplay the characters I love. Due to my size. I thought cosplay was to show what you like for character and series, to act like a beacon for other with similiar taste. Apperantly not all see it like that. For me it is a fear to become a laughing stock on the internet.
    I am a big person. I know that cosplays that’s worked on real good can look good on people who are big. And yes. I do think there are cosplays that isn’t flattering for big people. I would never do a Yoko because I know for myself that it isn’t flattering for me. But I think that supplies for anyone. Some cosplays just doesn’t look good on a person because we are all differently shaped, but that is a decision they make on their own and people need to look past it. If you aren’t going to contest with the cosplay. What the heck does it matter? It is just to show what you like and find other that do the same.
    And also… Just to say a cosplay is bad isn’t constructive critic! I think it is better if it annoys people so to say “Hey, that’s a cool cosplay, but I could give you some tips to make it even better if you want?”. If you got no respons to what looks wrong and what could be done better you have no real critic to share more than that you don’t like it and that is an opinon you donät necessarily have to share with that person.
    Then it is an open conversation if you say something along those lines and the person can say no if they wish to and you might get a new friend in the process.
    I mean.. Is really a bit of consideration a thought that is impossible to have or reach for? It is also called being polite!
    I think if we are more humble to each other and more open minded we all get happier and things like this can stop.

  12. we’ll have to get rid of people of walmart and awkward family photos too.

    i faced debilitating bullying all through school; coming home bloody and beaten, humiliated, all the things that make bullying bullying-but what our current anti bullying atmosphere is not seeing clearly is that harassment and bullying are consistent, continual. one jibe is not bullying. one picture saying HAHA! FAT! is not bullying, it’s mean, uncalled for, malicious and stupid, but it’s not bullying. bullying is very personal, even when on the net-because it doesn’t stop till something BIG happens. i dont support what the person and this page are doing, but until they single out individuals with consistent, continual abuse, it’s just a bunch of assholes, not bullying.

  13. What freedom was killed? Facebook is a private entity, there is no freedom of speech issue. You agree to abide by their terms of use. Period.

    And yes, this doesn’t mean the people behind acts such as this will just give up… but it may slow the spread of this sort of crap. To suggest people do nothing because it won’t stop it …. do you not lock your doors at home? A thief could still break in to your house… so why bother?

    We bother because it makes it harder for them, we bother because it makes a difference, we bother because it’s the right thing to do.

  14. Everyone gets so offended from anything these days. If you don’t like the page, don’t visit the page. If they put your photo up, they have to take it down. It’s not bullying. There are two options when cyberbullied: kill yourself or just block/ignore the person. Which one seems like a reasonable option? Can’t ignore them? Then the problem lies with you. I’ve dealt with it, no excuses. Real life bullying is not the same, so don’t make comparisons. If you are continually bullied on the internet, you’re either being cyberstalked by a very talented person or you’re seeking it out just for the attention of being a victim.

    And no one has the right to not be offended. Grow the F up.

  15. Oh good god people, is this really what out society has become? A bunch of cry babies trying to have people locked up for not liking you? Grow up.