Cyberbullying on the rise in 2014: Who is responsible for the phenomenon?

Cyberbullying on the rise in 2014: Who is responsible for the phenomenon?
2014: Cyberbullying stories that made national news headlines this year. - File Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: IT'S a known fact that cyber-bullying is no stranger to avid social media users.

The phenomenon has continued to make news headlines globally. Individuals now have various outlets to express themselves – from blogging to online forums or what is popularly known as social media sites including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Some use the social media as beneficial as sharing information and knowledge. Others allow their emotions 'out in the open' posting threats and humiliation to others. They are known as the 'keyboard warriors'.

Keyboard warriors need no introduction. Often, they hide behind the comfort of their computer screens and hold no qualms about overly-expressing themselves in their posts peppered with raunchy and below-the-belt jokes or sarcasms.

They feel "secure" since they can choose not to reveal their identity.

According to Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team (MyCERT), there have been 516 reported cases of cyber harassment this year (until November).

In 2013, MyCERT received 512 reported cases, a rise from 300 reported cases in 2012.

For you, these might just be figures. 

Being part of the social media community, ask yourself if you really care?

Astro AWANI attempts to put some faces to this year's biggest cyberbullying cases.

2014 and cyberbullying

Several cyberbullying cases which took place in 2014 are not just trending on social media, it hit national news headlines.
These names may ring a bell: Sheena Liam and Kiki became hot topics not only on the social media but print and electronic media

Sheena Liam
Sheena Liam became a cyberbully victim after her win on Asia’s Next Top Model television programme. –Photo: Twitter/Asia’s Next Top Model & Instagram/Sheena Liam

After clinching the coveted ‘Asia’s Next Top Model’ title, local model Sheena Liam was thrown in to the gutter after she unceremoniously fell victim of cyberbullying.

During the show’s showdown, Liam beat two other contestants from the Philippines.

Naturally, her fans were left perplexed. They took to the Instagram to criticise Liam citing she was not the deserving winner. For the record, the fans walked the extra mile to lambast her, right down to using profanity words in their comments.

Gadis Pailang
‘Gadis Pailang’ video went viral in June even though the incident took place in April. –Photo: YouTube

Trending too, this year is a series of bullying videos featuring students seen harassing their fellow schoolmates.

A a video of three school girls known in the video as “Gadis Pailang” took place in April but the video got the attention of the public after it was shared on social media starting June.

The girls, aged 16-years-old from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Hajah Laila Tai, were accused for causing injury to a 15-year-old girl from the same school.

The Kota Samarahan court found them guilty and sentenced the juveniles to Sekolah Tunas Bakti for two years of rehabilitation.

Fellow netizens continued lambasting the teenagers and some went as far as passing their judgements to sentence them.

A video of Kiki scolding an elderly man did not only drew criticisms from netizens but her personal information was also leaked to the internet. –Photo: Bernama photo & YouTube

In July, Siti Fairrah Asyikin Kamaurddin, or Kiki, also hit the headlines. And for the wrong reason too.

She struck the wrong chords among Netizens after she allegedly hit an elderly man, known as Sim Siak Hong accidentally hit her car.

A video of her who flew into a rage and verbally assaulted the 68-year-old immediately became viral.

Netizens criticised her for her action but some went overboard for revealing her personal details, including her business on the social media. Some even wanted to meet Kiki personally to 'teach her a lesson'.

Kiki was later fined RM5000 and ordered to carry out a total of 240 hours of community service.

Black singlet
Another bully video went viral on the internet in November. After police investigations, it was confirmed that the incident took place in 2011. –Photo: YouTube

Another video of a bully incident went viral in November involving a group of boys, led by a student wearing a black singlet, bullying nine other students.

Speculations were rife about the exact location of the school where the event took place. Many said that the incident took place in Sarawak. Local police denied the speculation while the police later confirmed that it took place in a hostel in Pontian, Johor, in 2011.

Netizens and self-censorship

In a Google Hangout session with Astro AWANI, EYE Project Co-Founder Christpher Tock said netizens should be more responsible especially the younger ones.

“Those from Gen-Y (or older) community would know how to practise self-censorship. The younger generation do not know about it. They do not know how to self-censor when it comes to expressing themselves while led to the Sheena Liam and Kiki cases,” he said.

Tock admitted that Malaysians in general love sharing controversial content but he also says that there should be a positive aspect when they decide to do so.

“When I share controversial content, I often ask ‘Will I share this with a positive message? Or will I share this with full of emotions just to get at people?’

“That’s the difference between a responsible netizen and an irresponsible netizen,” he said.

Catch the full interview on Google Hangout:

Google Hangout session with EYE Project co-founder Christopher Tock

In an interview with Astro AWANI, social media consultant Zain HD said the cyberbullying trend is worrying, and now can be considered as socially-accepted.

“We can pretty much say it’s part of our culture now,” he said.

Zain added that with the increasing rate of cyberbullying, others must be reminded to have some control when using the social media.

“There are also those who does not pay much attention to it, as it will be forgotten over a short period of time,” said Zain.

Is cyberbullying socially-accepted now? - File Photo

Social and media and 2015

Looking ahead, Zain hoped that responsible usage of social media can be embedded in our culture.

“There are people who are aware of the responsible usage of social media. Some might say it’s trivial but when someone does it and is followed by many, it will eventually be accepted in our society. 

"We must realise that each individual is a participant in the community,” he added.