In the aftermath of the Tyler Clementi suicide, Dan Solove writes:
… This tragic episode might be the center of the media’s attention, but it isn’t an isolated occurrence. Cyberbullying is rampant among our youth. Some studies show that more than 40% of young people claim to have been victimized by cyberbullying at some point in their lives. Countless victims suffer emotional distress, leading to mental breakdowns and a number of suicides.
One of the reasons this is occurring is because we aren’t doing a sufficient job combating cyberbullying. Another reason is that we are failing to educate young people about privacy and the consequences of self-disclosure and revelation of information about others. The members of the generation growing up today — what I call “Generation Google” — must live with extensive information about themselves online, available anywhere in the world by doing a simple Google search. Their lives are being affected in profound ways, and they are not being given adequate guidance and education about privacy.
Read more on the Huffington Post.
Although I agree with Dan on his major points, I’m almost sorry he segued into discussing “cyberbullying” in this context because: (1) as he notes elsewhere in the column, we don’t know the students’ intentions here, and (2) more people might recognize themselves if they don’t get their defenses up by being called a “cyberbully.”
Not all privacy invasions are cyberbullying. Not all privacy invasions are intended to harass or intimidate. But all privacy invasions are potentially or immediately harmful. And that’s what we need young people to appreciate. And we need to teach that in the context of teaching them what types of information should be treated as “private” and what to do when you are under pressure to reveal your own private information or that of others.