Post by Intern Taylor Stewart
In the new film “The Purge: Anarchy”, all crime is legal for one night of the year. Murder, thievery, human trafficking, and other forms of offense are allowed so that American citizens may “purge” their hatred and evil desires. Some social media users, in most cases teenagers, have adapted the concept of late and are cyberbullying their peers. On popular sites such as Twitter and Instagram, hundreds of pages and profiles have been created for users to anonymously expose and humiliate others for an arbitrary 12-hour period.
Through direct messages, users send in videos, photos, and comments to demean and destroy others. Scrolling through a “purge” page, one will find videos of fights, screenshots of text messages that contain personal secrets, and cruel comments about someone’s appearance or actions. Most commonly found on these profiles are nude photos of people of all ages. Participants send in these photos typically to seek revenge on ex-boyfriends and ex-girlfriends, a variation of ‘revenge porn’. All trust and privacy of the victim is violated as followers of the page view and comment on their photos. Cyberbullying has reached a new high due to this phenomenon.
Not all teens are remaining silent on the cruel trend. Many social media users have voiced their opposition to Twitter and Instagram “purging” accounts. Tags such as #stopthepurge have trended on multiple occasions. Teens have pointed out the cruelty of these accounts and the potential something like this has to ruin someone’s life. Twitter and Instagram administrators have been working to remove these profiles after reports surfaced of the phenomenon driving victims to suicide. While the number of pages is decreasing, new accounts are being made on a daily basis to replace those taken down.
As originally imagined in the film, following the 12-hour period of the Purge, there is no crime for the rest of the year. While this may be true in the film, this is not the case online. The exposing and cruel posts are often not deleted from the accounts, leaving them for anyone to see at any time unless the account is taken down. Victims continue to have their privacy and dignity violated as a result. Also, their online reputation is jeopardized. This could affect their ability to secure a job position or be accepted into a college in the future. While “purging” may seem like entertainment to some, the concept has serious consequences for those exposed and possibly the creators of the pages.
Like most fads, this is likely to pass, but parents need to be aware that it is happening, and encourage their teens not to take part. Parents can contact ThirdParent for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity and recommendations for immediate corrective action.