The use of the internet and electronic communications has become an integral part of society. Its accessibility and continuous advancement not only changed how we communicate with each other but also revolutionised our lives by making various tasks easier. While there are many benefits, such technologies may present a risk to children and adults alike. Cyberspace could provide a platform for individuals or groups to bully and harass other users. Cyberbullying or cyberharassment is often used interchangeably and defined as bullying through electronic communication or the internet. Just like traditional bullying, cyberbullying is deliberate and often repeated.
There are various forms of harassment that people experience online including receiving offensive or threatening messages, discovering their personal information has been made public, rumours spread about them to damage their reputation. As such, in the last decade, there has been a tremendous increase in research on this domain. It has also become a prominent issue among the public, not only among scholars. This is evidenced by high profile cases involving cyberharassment that resulted in suicide. An example of cyberharassment occurred in 2006 when Megan Meier befriended a 16-year-old guy named “Josh Evans” on MySpace. Initially, the exchange between the two was friendly, but they soon became malicious and the 13-year-old committed suicide. A police investigation later revealed that Josh Evans never existed and the perpetrator was Lori Drew, the mother of Megan’s former friend Sarah. Megan’s story is not the only case of cyberharassment that has permanent psychological and social impacts. A 2014 study by the Pew Research Centre revealed that 54% people surveyed has been called offensive names while a further 54% stated someone has embarrassed them online on purpose. Approximately half of those harassed had no idea who was to blame due to cyberspace’s higher level of freedom and anonymity.
Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim) reported defamation as the most common form of cyberharassment in Indonesia, followed by online fraud and pornography, with 517, 377, and 137 reported cases in 2021, respectively. However, it is important to note that not every victim would report the incidents, thus this number may have been higher.
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