School officials on Spotted Facebook alert

Posted By: Shuyee Lee · 6/16/2013 6:00:00 AM

Local school authorities are keeping their eye on the latest social media phenomenon that is making its way into some schools and being used for cyberbullying.

A shy person may see their school crush and post their unrequited love on a social media outlet known as a Spotted Facebook page, originally used on university campuses for such anonymous postings, then spread to other areas such as the mall, a concert, or a local café. Others would post light-hearted or funny comments about someone.

But now it's spread like wildfire, including in some elementary and secondary schools but not in such an innocent or good-humoured way. Now some students are using it to criticize and attack and insult others, all anonymously.

Tania Avrith, Educational Technology and Digital Citizenship lead teacher at the Lester B. Pearson School Board, said education is the key to showing students how this is abusive and hateful.

"We can't pretend that it's going to go away. It's never going to go away, it's only going to get bigger, and better and more powerful," Avrith said.

Anne Lagacé Dowson, director general of the anti-bullying organization Ensemble/For the Respect of Diversity, formerly known as the Tolerance Foundation, said education, public awareness and "netiquette" - civil behaviour in social media - are a major part of the solution.

"That is always the potential with the social media, it's kind of the wild west out there in the world of social media. It has an enormous potential for good but it also has an enormous potential for malice."

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