Rampant cyberbullying in China sparks national concerns

Rampant Cyberbullying in China bing AI generated photo 2023

China has woken up to the hard reality of Cyber bullying after a spate of few high-profile deaths. China’s Ministry of Public Security has taken note of 10 typical cases of Cyberbullying that had shook the nation. Thereafter, Beijing is fast tracking fresh laws under which individuals can be detained if found editing other people’s pictures, spreading rumors to dishonor someone sexually or posting insulting text messages on public platforms and making phone calls with an intention to harass.

The Ministry after examining these cases of Cyber bullying found that some of the victims had killed themselves while others suffered from mental illness. “We have always maintained a ‘zero-tolerance’ attitude and dealt with a number of internet violence cases where individuals slandered others, spread rumors or invaded privacy online,” the ministry said.

China has been gearing up for a fight against Cyber bullying and authorities are analyzing public opinion on new guidelines to punish online offenders. The most tragic cases of Cyber bullying has come to fore where a young girl committed suicide after months of relentless Cyber bullying when few people targeted her when she dyed her hair pink, and a mother who took her life after his son was tragically crushed to death by card driven by a teacher in school campus, and days later she chose to wear makeup at the site of her son’s death and thereafter attacked online abusers accusing her of seeking attention for better compensation of her son’s death.

Another case was, when, a guy with surname Zhang was jailed for six years after he used a positioning device to spy on a victim and then hired few people to spread fake videos, pictures and insulting articles about the person online, leading to the victim developing post-traumatic stress disorder. Zhang was later jailed for 10 years for picking quarrels and provoking trouble as per Chinese law.

In other cases, individuals were detained after spreading false rumors about the victim’s wife and a teacher was harassed by her superior. There were also cases where individuals were hired to float someone’s private information online, send derogatory text messages and mail paper money and other funeral items to the victims. The ministry took note of all such culprits and punished them as per Chinese law.

The Chinese legal system has been shaken by these cases of Cyberbullying and are now looking to strengthen regulations to crack down on such abuse. Past few years have seen an upward trend of victims falling prey to online abusers. This year a new “box-opening” movement has surfaced those hints at Cyber bullies resorting to tactics such as making the victim’s telephone number, ID number, address, photo and even hotel check-in information public on the online social platforms causing tremendous trauma to the victims.

In a similar case, a 17-year-old boy, Liu Xuezhou, took his own life last year after being Cyber bullied for months. Liu was abducted at birth and spent years looking for his biological parents. When he found them, he met rumors that he had only wanted a house from his parents and was trying to gain sympathy. Liu’s adoptive family has now sued two influencers this year and the case is still being processed.

Why is Beijing more focused on Cyber bullying at present when it was prevalent from the last decade or so? The answer is that now Xi Jinping’s government is seeing it as a social crisis and wants to maintain Cyberspace as a healthy and productive space. Moreover, the addictive nature of social media has now become threatening as to how it can manipulate the young minds. Chinese young adults have been exposed to social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram and everything they type, search and post makes them even more vulnerable. Experts believe that the women and children are more at risk of Cyber bullying in China.

One reason why Cyberbullying is so rampant in China is that it comes under criminal law and most of the culprits don’t even think that what they are doing is unlawful. Chinese authorities need to differentiate Cyber bullying as crime under civil and criminal law. There needs to be a lot of education given to the users as to how to judge Cyber bullying and raise the issue with the concerned authorities. The Chinese education system also has a big role to play in order to guide young girls to make them understand online behavior.

For now, the Ministry of Public Security in China has published a number of examples for the public to understand Cyber bullying and issued a directive to define and punish Cyber bullying in September.

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