Bullying Goes Tweeting

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UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES
College of Mass Communication

BULLYING GOES TWEETING: AN EVALUATION ON THE FEATURES OF TWITTER THAT MAKE IT A VENUE FOR CYBER BULLIES

DE GUZMAN, JORDAN CHARLES
MARQUEZ, NARILYN JOY

Submitted to: Prof. Aleth Gayosa

I. INTRODUCTION
A. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Bullying is defined as a specific type of repeated aggression in which the behavior is intended to harm or disturb and there is an imbalance of power (Nansel, et. al., 2001, as cited in Montes &Halterman 2007) or a ‘‘victim–perpetrator’’ dimension (Einarsen and Skogstad, 1996; Keashly, 1998, as cited in LaVan& Martin, 2008) and which are unwanted by the victim, which may be done deliberately, or unconsciously, but clearly cause humiliation, offense, distress, may interfere with job performance, and/or cause an unpleasant working environment (Einarsen, 1999, as cited in Heames& Harvey, 2006).

Most of the time, bullying can be categorized into three: physical, emotional, and verbal bullying. Physical bullying usually involves behaviors that intentionally inflict bodily harm like hitting, pushing, punching, and kicking (Wilson, 2011). The second type, emotional bullying, refers to the cases where a person is made to feel isolated and ridiculed largely through mechanism such as teasing, shouting, mocking and ignoring; this is a case where the bullying does not necessarily have a physical component and for that reason it is sometimes harder to spot or rectify (Anonymous, 2006). The last type, verbal bullying, is name-calling, making offensive remarks, or joking about a person's religion, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or the way they look (Time for Tolerance, n.d.).

However, because of the fast development of technology, a new form of bullying has risen, and it is in the form of cyber bullying. Viewed as an extension of traditional bullying, this kind of bullying is also aggressive and is typically repetitive (Agatston, n.d.). There is still power imbalance, but cyber bullying’s has more to do with the ability to reach such a wide audience and humiliate, cause fear, or virtually destroy the reputation of another with a single click of a mouse or the send button on a mobile phone, in contrast to traditional bullying where the power imbalance may involve a student who is older, bigger, stronger, or more popular picking on a youth who is younger, weaker, or who has fewer friends (Agatston, n.d.). Cyber bullying can be done through email, instant messaging (IMing), chat room exchanges, Web site posts, or digital messages or images send to a cellular phone or personal digital assistant (Kowalski et al. 2008, as cited in Olweus, 2011). One of the most used means of cyber bullying is through social networking sites. In fact, 32% of online teens have experienced some forms of online harassment like having received threatening messages, being victims of spread rumors, and being embarrassed because of someone posting a picture of them online without permission. One of the social networking sites that is a possible ground for this crime is Twitter. As NewsBlaze LLC (n.d.) explains it, twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?"by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers." It became existent in 2006 and was founded by Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, and Biz Stone. Since then, it has become a hit worldwide.

Cyber bullying acts can be linked to the different features of the social networking site. Besides, there must be a reason on why cyber bullies choose Twitter as the venue for these acts. The most basic of which is the “tweet”. It is the most fundamental unit of the site, these are updates sent and read by Twitter users. Its 140-character allowable also makes it a kind of “microblogging”. Just like SMS phones, it also has the “message” feature. The “mention” feature allows you to...
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