Ethiopia: Diaspora Cyberbullies Dumbing Down Online Discourse?

Anti-intellectualism has a very unpleasant past in the not-so-distant and violent history of Ethiopia. But unfortunately even today, while hiding behind a computer screen, some fake news webmaster(s) in the Diaspora still foster this repugnant culture through their fictitious name characters that offer nothing of substance to the public, except to spew hate, personal attacks, juvenile name-calling, labeling and baseless misinformation propaganda against fellow Ethiopians. Are these cyberbullies dumbing down the online political discourse in our community? And how can we stand up to them without resorting to their failed and cynical "shooting the messenger" tactics? It starts with understanding the meaning of cyberbullying. (Photograph: stopbullying.gov)

What Is Cyberbullying

[According to stopbullying.gov:]

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behavior.

Special Concerns

With the prevalence of social media and digital forums, comments, photos, posts, and content shared by individuals can often be viewed by strangers as well as acquaintances. The content an individual shares online – both their personal content as well as any negative, mean, or hurtful content – creates a kind of permanent public record of their views, activities, and behavior. This public record can be thought of as an online reputation, which may be accessible to schools, employers, colleges, clubs, and others who may be researching an individual now or in the future. Cyberbullying can harm the online reputations of everyone involved – not just the person being bullied, but those doing the bullying or participating in it. Cyberbullying has unique concerns in that it can be:

Permanent – Most information communicated electronically is permanent and public, if not reported and removed. A negative online reputation, including for those who bully, can impact college admissions, employment, and other areas of life.

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