Individuals, governments and digital platforms should all be held accountable for bullying and harassment on digital platforms

Due to the instantaneous and interactive nature of digital platforms, people can freely express themselves and get comments from other users in digital platforms. While it brings convenient communication between users, it is also very wild for online bullying and harassment. Bullying and harassment in digital platforms are very different from the traditional bullying and harassment. Users can attack other users anonymously and virtually, and the cost of doing so is very low. This means that after the victim is bullying and harassment, even if the victim cuts off his or her own means of communication, there will still be other users involved in the bullying and harassment event. Often these users do not play the role of direct violent participants, but inadvertently still cause more harm to the victim because the public nature of the internet leads to some bad words being seen by more people. In addition to the above issues, there are different criteria for determining bullying and harassment, because different cultures lead people to have different views on the same thing, and the digital platform as a concentrator of multiple cultures, this problem will be more prominent. In this article, we will discuss the responsibility of bullying and harassment in digital platforms from three perspectives and provide a feasible standard for determining bullying and harassment, and finally propose feasible suggestions to stop the proliferation of bullying and harassment.

The decline of personal morality leads to frequent bullying and harassment on digital platforms.

Using the convenience of digital platforms to bullying and harassment other users is itself a lack of ethics, so the responsibility for bullying and harassment in digital platforms is attributed to the senders themselves. After Carroll Brodsky raised the issue of workplace harassment, it has been found that such workplace harassment has become more and more serious in digital platforms. Workplace harassment is defined as “harassment is characterized by repeated and persistent attempts by one person to wear down and frustrate another and a group of employees working together can be susceptible to experiencing problematic interpersonal behaviors based on personality conflicts, disagreements, and, in extreme cases, violence, and, in extreme cases, violence” (Tenório, 2019, p. 295). In Tenório’s view, bullying and harassment occur in the workplace primarily from individuals putting too much pressure on another or teams isolating one member of the team. Unfortunately, with the development of technology and techniques, many of the communication links in the workplace have incorporated the use of digital platforms. For example, many companies in China use nails to communicate with their employees and to set up and communicate with people within the company, which can be convenient but still aggravate the situation of bullying and harassment in the workplace. In the vertical and horizontal descendants mentioned by Tenório, victims receive frequent and emboldening messages of bullying and harassment through the pervasive digital platform, which is doubly damaging to the victim and does not end with separation. This damage does not end with separation, as users in digital platforms are easily tracked, which means that the cessation of work does not mean the cessation of bullying and harassment. In contrast, digital platforms in the workplace, for example, act as a catalyst for bullying and harassment to become more severe. But the fact is that many small companies do not have enough money to build their own work system, and the digital platform as a medium to a large extent for small companies to create an excellent work platform. As for the bullying and harassment should be blamed on the company’s improper hiring, the hirer combined with the need to consider the employee’s ethical issues, rather than simply looking at business ability.

“Stop Bullying!” by Spongehoe is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Digital platforms use smart algorithms or smart masking to control bullying and harassment.

The anonymity of digital platforms allows users to attack other users at a very low cost, so digital platforms should be held accountable for online bullying and harassment. As Roberts says, “Yet the process to handle this content is often catch-as-catch-can. On many highly trafficked sites, the amount of user- Issues of scale aside, the complex process of sorting user- uploaded material into either the acceptable or the rejected p into either the acceptable or the rejected pile is far beyond the capabilities of software or algorithms alone.”(Roberts, 2019, p. 34) Digital platforms Some keywords about bullying and harassment had to be blocked and blocked to address such issues, but such controls are a drop in the bucket for the tens of thousands of bloody violence in digital platforms. Because most bullying and harassment comments are made by users and not machines, this means that users can subtly avoid censorship by replacing words with the same pronunciation, but decoding among other users gives full insight into the sender’s intent. Instagram can filter comments to protect users from bullying and harassment, and can restrict specific accounts to passively prevent bullying and harassment. Many digital platforms have added artificial intelligence detection to reduce staffing and speed up review. Digital platforms require a high level of technology to handle bullying and harassment comments, which some smaller digital platforms cannot achieve, so even though digital platforms are responsible for bullying and harassment, they are still lacking.

The national government also has laws to stop bullying and harassment in digital platforms.

Bullying and harassment do not emerge because of digital platforms, but the scope of their impact is expanded through digital platforms. Therefore, while digital platforms are responsible, government laws should also be responsible. Some bullying and harassment statements contain illegal ideas, such as racial or sexual discrimination. In her article, Massanari describes the unchecked growth of toxic culture on digital platforms, saying “From the USENET groups to the darknet to 4chan and other chan-style image boards, toxic techno cultures have always thrived in an environment of little accountability, anonymity, and the increased globalization enabled by online technologies” (Massanari, 2016, p. 333). Accessing the dark web is not something that is illegal, it is the content in the dark web that is illegal because the nature of the dark web makes it impossible for the government and police to directly combat it, but there is not a small amount of illegal content in the normal web outside of the dark web, so the government should go ahead and actively combat speech about bullying and harassment in digital platforms. In the case of Liu Xuezhou, the victim was subjected to cyber violence, which was initiated by women who said that Liu only wanted to get a house from his parents and gain sympathy in this way. When Liu Xuezhou ended his Weibo posting that he was disappointed with his life and was ending it, it was too late, even though other netizens tried to save him. People always say that words have power, and online violence is like an invisible blade that repeatedly ravages a fragile soul. Liu Xuezhou belongs to suicide in the police report, but the heart knows that every digital platform user of online violence is a murderer. There is still a long way to go to pursue accountability for bullying and harassment on digital platforms, but it is good to see that countries are developing cyber police, which is the embodiment of government responsibility for bullying and harassment on digital platforms.

“Bullying and harassment in medical training” by General Medical Council is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.


In conclusion, bullying and harassment on digital platforms did not develop in one day to be as hostile as it is today, so to solve this problem is not done overnight either. As mentioned above for the problem of bullying and harassment on digital platforms, the morality of users, digital platforms and the government all have corresponding responsibilities. With the improvement of users’ awareness level, the soundness of national laws and the technological enhancement of digital platforms, the survival space of bullying and harassment on digital platforms will become smaller and smaller, and until extinction.


Reference list

Tenório, N., & Bjørn, P. (2019). Online harassment in the workplace: The Role of Technology in labour law disputes. Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), 28(3-4), 293–315.

Massanari, A. (2016). #Gamergate and the fappening: How reddit’s algorithm, Governance, and Culture Support Toxic Technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3), 329–346.

Roberts, S. T. (2019). Behind the Screen, 33–72.

BBC. (2022, January 25). Liu Xuezhou: Outrage over death of ‘twice abandoned’ China teen. BBC News. Retrieved October 13, 2022, from

RAINN. How to filter, Block, and report harmful content on social media. RAINN. (2022). Retrieved October 13, 2022, from