Arch enemies Facebook and Google should team up against cyberbullying

Arch enemies Facebook and Google should team up against cyberbullying

Summary: Hardly a day goes by that I don't hear of some child being bullied on Facebook. It makes me sick. Facebook and Google need to beat their swords into plowshares and stop the bullying.

SHARE:
TOPICS: Google
11

There's nothing quite as pleasant as stepping in between of two warring factions and saying in a still, small voice, "Hey guys, can you stop fighting and work together on something that's bigger than both of you?" I don't expect very much action to come from this idea but on the off chance that there's hope, I have to plead my case. I want Facebook and Google to team to combat bullying. I know it might seem trivial to some of you but to thousands of children it's a big deal. So big, in fact, that children have committed suicide over it. That fact alone makes it a very big deal and it's bigger than some silly feud. And, it could save lives.

What better epitaph could there be than to say of someone or some company, "That they cared enough to save a life"? 

Why should I choose Google to help Facebook solve this problem?

Simple. Google has the planet's best search engine and Facebook is where everyone (OK, a billion people--not everyone) hangs out. Some of those people get bullied while hanging out. Google's search for bullying keywords and key phrases could help isolate the problem before it starts.

Facebook does have a policy in place that prohibits anyone under the age of 13 from setting up an account. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. My daughter's friends have accounts and they're 11 and 12 years old. My daughter does not have an account and won't until she's at least 13. I just don't see any point to it. She gets bullied enough at school and I'm not going to allow it online as well.

My wife and I have made it clear to the parents of said bullies that their kids are doing this but they seem to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to it. Our next measure is to pull our daughter out of public schools and spend thousands of dollars to place her in private school. There are still no guarantees there either.

As a person who was bullied as a child, it makes me violently angry to hear of children being bullied to the point of suicide. It makes me equally angry for my own daughter to be a victim of it.

Bullies are, in a sense, victims too. They generally have some sort of abuse or neglect going on at home. However, I won't allow my child to be a victim of someone else's poor parenting or of drug and alcohol abuse at someone else's home.

OK, you've probably sensed that I'm a little too close to this subject but I believe strongly in stopping bullying. There should be ways to stop it at schools, on the playgrounds and online without resorting to what is basically legislated morality. What I mean is that those who are in control of public forums, such as schools, online meeting places and recreational locations have a responsibility to ensure the emotional and physical safety of everyone involved.

Facebook has a responsibility--a global responsibility to protect anyone who enters its virtual premises. Our teachers have a responsibility to protect our children. We, as parents, have a responsibility to be involved enough with our children to know when something is wrong. My favorite question to ask when something bad happens to a child who is bullied is, "Where are the parents?"

The answer isn't something I want to hear. The parents don't care or they have their faces buried in their cell phones or their own stuff so much that their kid's lives are secondary or tertiary concerns to them. Chances are good that the children of these neglectful parents are either being bullied or the bullies themselves. Parents need to take responsibility. Assuming that some external force will protect their offspring is the wrong answer.

However, we should be able to expect some level of protection from those in charge of schools, recreational sites and activities and online venues.

With Google's help, Facebook could achieve this level of protection. Google's "robots" search and index millions of websites each day and those robots could be programmed to seek out bullying phrases and patterns. It would be easy for them to do so.

Facebook and Google will have to lay down their arms against each other, pause to attach themselves to the greater good and to work toward a common goal. Our personal vendettas and pettiness must be put aside for our children. I'm sorry that this all sounds like some bleeding heart nonsense to some of you but for thousands of us this is the most important thing in the world. 

Facebook has a major responsibility. Google's responsibilty is a secondary one--one of having the capability to do something. Think of the person who sees someone who needs help but instead stands there filming the incident. That's Google's responsibility. Google has the technology to help and the responsibility to not be a bystander.

We all have a responsibility. It takes a village to raise a child. The village has a responsibility. Virtual or real, the village must take responsibility for every child.

My personal plea to Google and Facebook: Help solve this problem before anymore children have to suffer needlessly. Take responsibility for what you've built. Put aside your own selfishness and selfcenteredness to do this. It could be your greatest epitaph.

Ask yourself this question, "How do I want to be remembered?"

What do you think? Do you think that Facebook and Google should put their heads together to solve cyberbullying? Talk back and let me know.

Topic: Google

About

Kenneth 'Ken' Hess is a full-time Windows and Linux system administrator with 20 years of experience with Mac, Linux, UNIX, and Windows systems in large multi-data center environments.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

11 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Are you kidding? Google is the biggest bully. Datamining your private data

    and selling it for big bucks and giving you none of it.
    Johnny Vegas
    • nope

      Sorry, but google isn't selling your data to anyone, and definitely not you private data.
      What Google does, is to sell people habits and group functionality statics.

      The difference is huge, what Google haters don't understand.

      It is like someone sitting at street counting vehicles. What kind, how many and how many sits in them and then they sell these statics to city council sso they can design better traffic, car manufacturers so they can focus what is most wanted car, environment activists so they can make statics how much environment is stressed by private driving, car painting shops what can advertise to car owners to paint car to anther color instead buying a new one etc etc...

      No one is selling or gathering data who is driving, who sits next to you, who owns the car, what people wear, what they are talking about etc etc....

      Google haters are talking about latter one, while they ignore what Google does, is the first one. They gather public, anonymous mass information what can be sold to others who need statics. Example what is most used search word in given time and place, how people react to specific news, what time periods are when people send emails, how emailing habits has been changed... same data What post office, news corporations, TV corporations, shop keepers etc have been gathering decades before Google existed. Google is now just the "consultant" what does the statics collection effectively and quickly.
      Fri13
  • What are you smoking?

    So you want the Big Brother Corporate marketing stink eye on everyone?
    Joe_Raby
  • Require minors to never use their real name and wipe identities yearly

    Require minors to never use their real name and wipe identities yearly.

    That would go a long way to protecting them from unwanted contacts without a large cost relative to others. It would also help protect them from stupid things they might say if egged on that might haunt them in the future in terms of employment options.

    Incrementally of course.. there is no silver bullet but the less link to real identity the harder it will be to extort with fear etc. .

    Annual wipes give chances for young people to reinvent themselves too and make it easier for them to distance people they no longer want to be associated without any drama making it look like it was an active decision of theirs.
    Shander Maxwhite
    • nope

      Anonymous is best protection if someone tries to cyber bully. If someone use nickname (like me) then when someone bullies you can not take it personally in such way. In time, nicknames grow to identity for that service and owner can start protecting it by choosing how to write behind that name for fame. But changing every week, month or year is habit for people who want to bully.

      It is important that everyone can separate online and real life, and when needed, to write behind anonymous service to tell the truth and give critic what otherwise would place you to big problems in real life.

      Example of wikileaks.... it doesn't matter who dents them, but what is sent to them. Of course those who are in powerful and rich, hate it and wants to stop it so people would be scared to tell truth and help others. And that is terrorism.

      World biggest terrorist is USA government, and US corporations what drive non-anonymous online discussion forward, like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook etc.... those are terrorist companies or some of their actions/demands are like such. To get people scared to come forward with their knowledge, insights and opinions what could set them in big troubles in real life.

      I know people who have just stated their opinions once against the CEO or so on, finding later they never again can work at that market or to anyone who is doing business with that CEO. And when CEO is like Nokia ex CEO, you are out from many country and markets in IT world and journalism because those make sure your name is blacklisted.
      Fri13
  • Great Idea...

    Just needs support and more detail - having been touched personally by this issue more than once in my life - I agree that every effort should be made to protect these kids from bullying. It may never eradicate the problem completely - but that's no excuse for not trying to reduce the issue as much as is humanly possible. Otherwise, are we really saying that the lives of these kids are not worth the effort?

    I agree that many parents are much more distracted these days, however I for one am sick of the 'where are the parents' fallback. It's just too convenient when all else fails to blame the parents. Too much blame and finger pointing goes on to the resolve of nothing! The idea is great - but let's stop wasting our time on finger pointing and put our efforts to protecting the ones that are still alive and suffering.
    Anycolouryoulike
    • nope

      The responsibility is on parents and every adult who sees wrong doing and doesn't teach kids not to do so.
      If you allow bullying to happen, then you are part of it. If classmates watch elsewhere when one is being bullied, they allow it to happen and they accept it. They are allowing one to terrorize other person life.

      Parents needs to make sure that their kids don't do that. And if someone doesn't care what their kid does, then adults needs to take actions to make sure that parent does and that kid learn it as well.

      Those who just say parenting is so hard and it is unfair to "point fingers toward parents" (like you) should learn it is responsibility of parent and in first place no one else. Society can take actions against individuals if they don't teach their kids to behave and respect others. But in USA and many other western countries bullying is very widely and silently accepted and even couraged.
      Fri13
  • Parents do not worry about their kids bullying, only being bullied

    The son of one my friends was bullied (physically beat up) by another boy. The son was a classic target for bullies: artistic, introverted, academic. My friend confronted the parents of the bully who said that they did not want to interfere with the relationship between children (both boys were 14 at the time). My friend explained to his son that bullies were cowards who picked on people who they perceived as weaker and the only way to stop a bully is to demonstrate strength. The next time the bully tried to beat up the son, the son punched the bully in the jaw which stopped the fight. The next day the parents of the bully complained to my friend that his son had beat up their son (the bully). My friend reminded them that they did not want to interfere with the relationship between children. The bullying stopped after that.
    How do we make parents care about on-line bullying? This idea to catch bullies is a good one, but what to do once you catch on-line bullying? How about banning the family from internet access for a period of time? This would stop the on-line bullying and encourage parents to monitor their children.
    waltersokyrko
  • Nanny State Sheeple Bleating

    Come on Google, come on Facebook do our job for us. Are peoples children their own, and therefore their own responsibility, or not?
    If you are concerned by what is happening when your children are online it's up to you to do something about it.
    Stop passing the buck of responsibility to others. They're your children, get off your arse and be a real parent. Instead of sitting back and expecting all the hard work to be done by others.
    It's not Google or Facebook, or any other corporation or government to blame, no matter what the indoctrinated nanny state sheeple want to believe.
    antonravioli
  • Boulevard Journalism?

    I would rather believe that most of this nonsense about "wars', 'Arch Enemies' etc. is more the fantasy of cheap 'Boulevard' journalism. Hey, Writers, you're writing to educated tech's here, not airheads in the Supermarket Checkout Line. If you don't think so, meet me with Elvis at your local shopping mall. We'll talk about it.
    Leo Regulus
  • Errr.....

    Is this like one of those analysts who off the top of their head come out with [usually] dumb news that they wish would happen but won't? Remember the stories where the iPad mini couldf actually be an eBook reader to stop the Kindle domination? Or that the mini was suppose to be out in July?
    While it would be nice if Facebook and Google did something together, don't count on it. Probably as lilely as the New York mets and New York Yankees having a trade.
    Gisabun