With easy access to social media and cell phones, nearly everyone can become a victim of cyberbullying or, vice versa, participate in cyberbullying. Unfortunately, those who engage in cyberbullying often do not think about the tremendously negative effects that harassment, stalking, and other forms of cyberbullying can have on the victim of cyberbullying.
Our Pittsburgh cyberbullying attorney at SMA Law Group explains that cyberbullying is defined as bullying undertaken through the use of electronic devices, including cell phones, computers, text messaging, emails, social media, and websites.
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If you have ever browsed YouTube comments or replies to a tweet on Twitter, you may have noticed that there are a lot of insults and foul language. And while not all heated arguments on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram can be classified as “cyberbullying,” many people are falsely accused of cyberbullying mainly because the alleged victim does not know what cyberbullying means.
Our experienced cyberbullying attorney in Pittsburgh defines cyberbullying as the practice where an individual or group of people use the Internet or electronic devices to ridicule, harass, stalk, or harm another person.
When a cyberbullying case goes to criminal court, the alleged cyberbully can be found guilty of harassment if the accuser has evidence to prove that the defendant communicated in a threatening way with the intent to harm, alarm, or annoy the target.
In other cases, a cyberbullying offense can be charged as stalking if the accuser can prove that the defendant’s behavior included repeated acts that threatened bodily injury or serious emotional distress to the victim.
Since many cases of cyberbullying involve the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, this can cause much more damage to the victim than private messaging between the accuser and accused, because the victim is being ridiculed, harassed or harmed publicly in front of everyone.
Another aspect of cyberbullying is that oftentimes, posts, images, and messages posted online cannot be erased forever even if you click the button “Delete.” That’s why those cyberbullying messages may come back to haunt victims for months or years, causing even more harm in the long run.
One of the biggest legal challenges in a cyberbullying case is identifying the bully, because cyberbullies often hide behind anonymous or fake user accounts and social media profiles in order to not reveal their identity. Behind that seemingly indestructible wall of anonymity, a bully feels even more emboldened and tough.
Being the victim of cyberbullying on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube can be a nightmare, but so is being falsely accused of cyberbullying someone on the Internet. Our Pittsburgh cyberbullying lawyer explains that there are several defenses to a cyberbullying-based criminal charge, the most common of which is the “free speech” defense.