In a new study, scientists have found that some social media platforms are more prone to bullying than others.
“I think this is a really important finding because it suggests that these platforms are being used to create and perpetuate an environment in which bullies can thrive,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Roberta H. Levesque, a social psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
The researchers examined 5,000 online forums from over 400,000 users of Facebook and Twitter, and found that they were far more likely to be frequented by people who identified as being bullied than those who identified with a different group.
“We found that bullies are more likely than other groups to be online communities, and we find that the bullying on these sites is far more frequent than on other sites,” Levesques said.
“This is really important because we know that bullying is harmful for many people, and it’s important to be aware of how these sites are being abused and manipulated to promote the bullying of others.”
Researchers found that people who have a history of bullying were more likely be part of bullying groups.
“What we saw is that bullies who are online tend to have more members of their communities who identify as being victims of bullying,” said Dr. Leveque.
“The bully who has a history is more likely, for example, to be a victim of harassment or bullying, and they may be using those as a cover for bullying themselves.”
“Bully” is a broad term that encompasses any person or group that engages in bullying or threatens others.
The research also found that the bullies who identified themselves as being part of the bullying group were also more likely engage in bullying themselves.
“That suggests that the bully who is online is more active in bullying himself, but it’s a bit hard to say for sure because they may not be the type of bully who’s active in a bullying group,” Leveques said, adding that it’s likely that the researchers did not measure the extent of bullying against other groups.
The study also found the types of bullying in the online forums varied, with some forums were more hostile and aggressive than others, but Leves Queres hopes that the study can be useful for helping social workers identify where to target their efforts.
“One of the things we want to know is, what are the barriers to bullying?
Is it the type, the level of bullying that you’re seeing, or is it a broader issue?”
“I hope that this study will give us some good information that will help us more effectively identify where the bullying needs to be identified.”
The study was published online in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.