NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

October 30, 2013

Cyberbullying, safety and anonymity

To the editor:

A privilege of working as a minister is that people share details of their families’ lives with me. But lately, that hasn’t seemed like such a privilege: I’m hearing about some evil behavior. Several people have told me about their teenage kids receiving nasty and discouraging messages online through the Latvia-based social media website ask.fm. ask.fm is outside the U.S. so they can, and do, ignore laws about protecting young people.

ask.fm allows participants to post anonymous questions to each other, and for anybody to view the questions and answers on computers and smartphones. I hear a few teens in Amesbury and Newburyport are ganging up to use ask.fm to bully people.

So, here is my plea: Avoid this ask.fm site. It’s sketchy and it can be dangerous. The same goes for all anonymous social media. If you do use it, or any social media, be kind! If people say shameful things about you online, remember this: You know who you are already. What people say about you online doesn’t define you, it defines them.

Oliver Jones

Assistant rector, St. Paul’s Church, Newburyport

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