Who should be responsible for the emerging problems arising in the Internet era?

Bullying, harassment, violent content, hate, porn and other problematic content circulates on digital platforms. Who should be responsible for stoping the spread of this content and how?

"Social Media" by Martin Gysler is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Social Media” by Martin Gysler is licensed by CC BY-NC-SA 2.0



As the world is gradually dominated by innovative technologies, digital platforms are becoming increasingly important. The Internet offers new approaches to education, entertainment, and even political management, facilitating business development, economic interactions, and the advancement of communication technologies. Unfortunately, everything has its two sides. The rapid development of the Internet and its integration into people’s daily lives has also increased the danger that information such as online violence and pornography can generate for users. The Internet allows people to hide themselves behind a mask of anonymity to express their opinions, allowing some people to take advantage of the anonymity to magnify their potential malice. Traditionally conceptualized, the recipients of online violence, threats and pornography would be noticed and defined as victims. However, such a hostile online environment can actually affect immature teenagers and lure them to the path of cyberbullying, which is also a situation we do not want to envision. In addition, during COVID-19, as people’s time at home was dramatically increased, so was their participation in the Internet, and the threat posed by negative information on the Internet became more and more serious.

What’s Cyberbullying?” by Common Sense Education. Retired from Youtube.


Data on cyberbullying

A 2018 Pew Research Center study found that 59% of teens have experienced some form of cyberbullying (Anderson, 2018). With research from Auxier (2021) indicating that about 20% of U.S. adults gave feedback that they had been cyber harassed because of their religious beliefs. In 2019, more than 28.1% of LGBTQ teens were cyber bullied, compared to 14.1% of their heterosexual peers (CDC, 2019). The study also revealed that 20.4% of females have experienced cyberbullying, compared to 10.9% for males. The kinds of data suggest that women, religious people, and LGBTQ people will receive more cyberbullying than others, and cyberbullying and harassment are found at high rates among teens.

In the COOK (2022) study, it was mentioned that the propagation of cyberbullying, hate, violence and sexual harassment messages can affect the emotional, academic, work and mental health of the victims with extremely bad results. Then, who should take responsibility for regulating cyberbullying and how to do so becomes a matter of concern.

Who should be the responsible subject for cyberbullying?

Governments and digital platforms are rightly responsible for organizing the spread of cyber violence, harassment and vulgar content, and the modalities for stopping cyber violence vary from entity to entity.

Stop Cyberbullying” by Elana Centor is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


Digital platforms

For digital platforms, they are the direct carriers of online violence. If digital platforms do not place restrictions on the content and users they host, then they will be a breeding ground for cyber violence. Massanari (2017) describes how the social news and community site Reddit.com has become a hub for anti-feminist activism, focusing on Reddit’s karma point system, the aggregation of material across subreddit, the the ease of subreddit and user account creation, the governance structure, and the way policies around offensive content provide fertile ground for misogynistic radicalism. In addition to this, the Twitch platform is also presented as an example of the presence of pornographic innuendo and cyberbullying of women and Black people in this live streaming platform (Zolides, 2021).

This shows that the extent to which social platforms manage content can directly affect the extent to which cyberbullying is spread. Therefore, social platforms should be responsible for limiting the spread of cyberbullying, pornography, and other content. By adding regulations on the use of the platform, timely handling of reported information, and enhancing algorithmic techniques, I believe that platforms can improve the undesirable situation. First of all, users should follow the rules of the platform when posting information on the Internet, and major platforms should take the responsibility to set up relevant regulations to stop the spread of pornography, violence, harassment and other content, and impose certain suppression on users who violate the relevant rules, such as restricting the flow or function of their content. Algorithms can also capture specific terms for some bullies, thus limiting the exposure of that content and reducing its harm. And on the point of censoring reported information, Gillespie (2018) has mentioned that most users want their tweets, Facebook pages, and YouTube comments to be free of harassment and pornography. Some cyberbullying or sexual harassment can use slang or redesigned phrases to avoid algorithmic detection while targeting and shaming a certain group of people, making it especially important for the “content managers” on each platform to be able to review the content posted by users in a timely manner. If mainstream social platforms could take on this responsibility and implement measures, cyberbullying content would be much reduced.


The government should also be rightfully responsible for this. On the one hand, the government needs to enact relevant laws to protect users. On the other hand, the government should also monitor social media companies and unite them to take responsibility for maintaining the online environment.

The most direct way to do this is to create laws that impose harsh penalties on the purveyors of online violence, harassment, and pornography. In addition, the government should also implement specific measures to address the dangers of online violence to teenagers. Since it is easy for teenagers to accept bad guidance and take the path of bullying others because of curiosity, following trends, and seeking to fit in before they have established a mature mindset.

Bae (2021) concluded after studying the relationship between youth exposure to violent online media and cybercrime that exposure to violent online media has a positive impact on cybercrime. This implies that education is needed to raise awareness of the dangers and illegality of cyber violence, and that youth need to be monitored to reduce exposure to violent online media content. To address this, in addition to education and supervision of youth by schools and parents, I believe the government should implement a rating system for social media platforms, movies and videos. For example, the government should cooperate with media platforms to develop a youth model and attach stricter vetting standards to the content of online information visible to users in this model. And implementing a grading system for movie and television also works, while jointly requiring real-name authentication for users on movie and television platforms, in order to distinguish young people who are not yet mentally mature and avoid them from watching works that are too bloody or obscene and pornographic, so as to avoid negative guidance in their growth process. Moreover, Young Oh et al. (2020) have studied the use of conversational robots to simulate the roles of bullies and victims with students to enhance anti-school bullying education by increasing students’ empathy, resulting in more positive responses to students’ attitudes toward bullying and producing good results. I believe that this technology is not limited to students or school bullying, everyone in society can embrace this kind of dialogue, and that a slight modification of the dialogue bot’s communication can be applied to anti-cyberbullying. The government could also start such a campaign to stop cyber violence and harassment.



In conclusion, the government and social media platforms need to work together to take responsibility for stopping the spread of cyberbullying, harassment, and pornographic content. This can be done by increasing guidance and education for users, limiting the spread of negative information, and punishing cyberbullies in order to stop cyberbullying.



Anderson, M. (2018). A Majority of Teens Have Experienced Some Form of Cyberbullying. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/09/27/a-majority-of-teens-have-experienced-some-form-of-cyberbullying/

Auxier, B. (2021). About one-in-five Americans who have been harassed online say it was because of their religion. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/02/01/about-one-in-five-americans-who-have-been-harassed-online-say-it-was-because-of-their-religion/

Bae, S.-M. (2021). The moderating effect of the perception of cyber violence on the influence of exposure to violent online media on cyber offending in Korean adolescents. School Psychology International, 42(4), 450–461. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.1177/01430343211006766

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019) . High School Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. http://yrbs-explorer.services.cdc.gov/.

Cook, S. (2022). Cyberbullying facts and statistics for 2018-2022. https://www.comparitech.com/internet-providers/cyberbullying-statistics/

Gillespie, T. (2018). Custodians of the Internet: Platforms, Content Moderation, and the Hidden Decisions That Shape Social Media. New Haven: Yale University Press. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.12987/9780300235029

Massanari, A. (2017). #Gamergate and The Fappening: How Reddit’s algorithm, governance, and culture support toxic technocultures. New Media & Society, 19(3), 329–346. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.1177/1461444815608807

Young Oh, E., Song, D., & Hong, H. (2020). Interactive Computing Technology in Anti-Bullying Education: The Effects of Conversation-Bot’s Role on K-12 Students’ Attitude Change Toward Bullying Problems. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 58(1), 200–219. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.1177/0735633119839177

Zolides, A. (2021). Gender moderation and moderating gender: Sexual content policies in Twitch’s community guidelines. New Media & Society, 23(10), 2999–3015. https://doi-org.ezproxy.library.sydney.edu.au/10.1177/1461444820942483