Social media can be a positive platform for people to express interests, talk about common topics, share parts of their lives... the list is endless. However, although there are many positive sides to social media, some people use it to make offensive comments that cause distress to others.
Obviously, social media is not the cause of this negative behaviour, it is just a platform that a handful of people use to express it. One of the major problems with bullying & harassment on social media is that it can be both indirect or direct.
Direct comments can be easily posted, such as "Ugh, Simon has been such a **** to me at work today!" or they could be more generalised, for example - "My Line Manager is so rude all the time, I don't know how his wife copes". But in an age where almost everybody has all of their personal information online and talk spreads very quickly, it isn't incredibly hard to figure out who it's directed at…
Cyberbullying can happen in a number of ways: inappropriate photographs may be posted; offensive or threatening comments might be made, or sensitive personal information could be revealed. This could be done accidentally or vindictively.
What's more, is that with the add-on features like 'Snapchat Stories' and 'Insta-Stories' it means that individuals know that their content will only exist for a short period of time. With this in mind, it may give someone the confidence to say something offensive knowing that it won't come back in a couple of years and be used against them.
However, being able to collect negative social media posts through the power of screenshots, photos, etc, could be useful in providing evidence for bullying in the workplace. Being able to analyse an individual's workplace activity online, add their social media posts to other internal workplace bullying inquiries, or to see if social media was being used during working hours, could all contribute to an investigation at work.
Although there is no evidence to suggest social media contributing to workplace bullying is going to escalate, it is still an ongoing problem as it has been for many years.
The way companies could better prevent bullying & harassment
It is highly suggested that workplaces should put specific social media guidelines regarding bullying and harassment into company policies and contracts.
Additionally, all employees and employers should be educated on how to identify cyber bullying and the best way to create a positive workplace culture. Our 15-minute Bullying & Harassment Training course provides the practical steps you may need for this.
Another example of the population standing up against workplace cyber bullying happened swiftly after a tweet from Alyssa Milano; her #MeToo campaign exploded across social media and across the world. This was a mass scale of people standing up to bullying and harassment in various workplaces and day-to-day life, their main message - bullying and harassment is not ok.