Teens don’t always tell their parents, or anyone else, when they are being cyberbullied online, but it happens too frequently. When cyberbullying occurs, it is good to know that some social networks give a fairly robust set of options for users to make the abuse go away without making too big a deal of it. Twitter fits nicely into this category.
Users can simply ignore abusive followers, but occasionally a more aggressive solution is called for, and we encourage parents and young users to evaluate each situation separately.
On Twitter, the options for dealing with abusers are “block”, “mute”, “report” and the high level solution of setting your account to private. Let’s take a look at what each means, and how each works.
Block – This works pretty much as it sounds. If you block someone, they will not be able to follow you, see your profile picture, tag you in pictures or have their mentions or replies show up in your timeline (if they are trying to taunt you, you won’t see it). If your profile is public, though, they will still be able to see your tweets. They will know that they have been blocked, because they will not be able to follow you again.
Mute – This works similar to the block function, but with mute, the other user will not see that they have been muted. Their tweets will still not show up in your timeline. If you do not want to give the bully the satisfaction of knowing he got to you, this is a decent option. Mute can also be applied as a temporary fix – you can unmute the person at any time if the annoyance was a minor one, or if you reconcile your differences.
Report – If the abusive is serious enough, we certainly recommend that you report the abuser to Twitter. The company claims that they will take action:
If the account is in violation of our policies, we will take action, ranging from warning the user up to permanently suspending the account.
Public vs. Private – Many people who use Twitter want their voice to be heard, and so they set their accounts to public and they welcome new followers. If, for whatever reason, a user is attracting multiple abusive followers (or if the user is young), we recommend setting the account to private. If the account is private, the user has the option to approve, or decline, all new follower requests.
Keep in mind that these options have changed recently, and they will probably change again from time to time. Similar options on each social network can be very different. Click here for a list of other social networks and how they work.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring child and teen internet activity.