Experts to draft plan on online bullying

Worldwide experts will draft an action plan to address cyberbullying over a two-day event in Ireland, thanks to the efforts of a US lawyer.

More than 250 young people, industry representatives, law enforcers, parents, teachers, policymakers, and experts will draw up the plan at the first Global Stop Cyberbullying Youth Summit to be held outside of North America. It will take place at Limerick Institute of Technology on Thursday, May 7.

Sponsored by Google and Facebook, the second day of the event takes place at the latter’s headquarters in Dublin, where the action plan will be finalised

According to one of the organisers, Parry Aftab, all the guest speakers are waiving their fees — which total an estimated $500,000 (€460,000) — and are flying in at their own expense.

They include Ms Aftab’s husband, Alan McCullough, the founder of the Child Safety Research and Innovation Centre in Canada; Bob Schilling, the head of Interpol’s crimes against children division; Kevin and Tammy Epling of Bullypolice; Barbara Colorossa, an author and renowned expert on bullying; and Sonia Flynn, managing director of Facebook Ireland.

Representatives from Twitter, Ask.fm, PostitPositive.com, Microsoft, and LinkedIn will also speak at the event.

Also attending will be the mother of Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Canadian who died by suicide in 2012. Before she died, Amanda posted a video on YouTube entitled, ‘My story: Struggling, bullying, suicide, self harm.

Representatives of the gay, lesbian, and transgender community will talk about how some of their members are being targeted.

Mr McCullough estimates that there have been at least nine deaths in Ireland related to cyberbullying in recent years.

Ms Aftab is one of five members of Facebook’s international advisory board.

Having started out as a lawyer on Wall St takeover and mergers and acquisitions, she became one of the first lawyers to practice cyber-law 20 years ago. Now she is considered one of the leading experts on digital best practices, safety, privacy, and security.

Ms Aftab defined cyberbullying as minor-to- minor digital harassment; when this activity involves adults, it is called cyber harassment.

She said everybody has a responsibility to ensure people are safe online from trolls and cyberbullies. When it does occur, she urged victims to report it so that websites can do something about it.

“Facebook doesn’t police these things on its own, it works off a report system, as it should, or otherwise it would be collecting too much information about what is going on in our lives,” said Ms Aftab.

“When you report it they take action. Law enforcement needs to know what to do when it is reported.

“Facebook may require subpoenas or court documents before they provide certain information.”

Ms Aftab said that education was important because there was a tendency for some people to weigh in with abuse as part of the mob mentality.

She said that Facebook co-operates 100% of the time with legitimate law- enforcement requests from Ireland as well as other countries.

To apply for an invitation to the Global Stop Cyberbullying Youth Summit, email cyberbullyingsummit.com

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