Week 6: Cyberbully

When you go online…who can you trust… who should you fear…?

Cyberbully is British television Channel 4’s most recent TV docu-drama, which first aired in January. Maisie Williams (most commonly known for her role of Aria Stark in HBO’s Game of Thrones) stars in the film. She plays Casey, a teenage girl who “lives her life out online”. She partakes in cyberbullying, as well as falls victim to it. She eventually comes in contact with a hacker that accesses personal information on almost all her technological devices. Casey is eventually manipulated into taking part in cyberbullying. If she does not comply, the hacker threatens to post personal pictures of her online. As mentioned in danah boyd’s reading, “Those who subscribe to Olweus’s definition view bullying as a practice in which someone of differential physical or social power subjects another person to repeated psychological, physical, or social aggression.” Towards the end of the film, Casey is almost led to overdose on antidepressants because of the eventual power the hacker holds over her.

I have yet not seen this film, but it’s available online to view for a few more days. After coming across the article on the film a few days ago, it made me think that this TV thriller is literally every parent’s nightmare. From hackers accessing personal information and ruining someone’s image, these are present day issues that are on the minds of every online user today. The most interesting aspect of this film is that it’s based on true “online horror” stories. Though the film acknowledges that it may be an exaggeration, I think it aids in the incorrect way of dealing with the internet. How should we be teaching teens about the internet?

More importantly, the film addresses common issues related to the internet such as “hackers”, “the who you can trust question”, and ultimately “identity”.

4 thoughts on “Week 6: Cyberbully

  1. christineholland

    This type of entertainment exists simply to capitalize on the moral panic of cyberbullying and hacking that is so widespread in the media at this time. Unfortunately, films that simply exaggerate the issue like this only fuel the moral panic, pushing parents to approach the topic with their children out of fear instead of opening up an unbiased conversation based on actual fact.

  2. jordaninnabi

    I haven’t seen the movie, but the trailer clearly sensationalizes cyberbullying–I’m pretty sure hacking doesn’t work quite that way. I think it’s clear that media and films like this, in which the drama is SO heightened, contribute directly to moral panic and to resistance to technology in general.

  3. William Lam

    I find it interesting that they chose to attack two different topics that don’t necessarily correlate with each other–hackers and cyberbullying using personal photos. Unless you’re an A-list celebrity, you hardly–if ever–hear of the case of some stranger stealing your photos and invading your privacy. Like Jordan said, the film clearly sensationalizes online privacy. It almost feels as though middle-aged parents wrote the screenplay without consulting any millennials who would actually understand how online safety works. Had they taken the instance of IsAnyoneUp.com, where angry ex’s post up personal photos of their formers (dubbed by the media as “revenge porn”) I feel like the film would hold more merit with people our age. But this film doesn’t, and I agree that it’s “horror stories” like this that prompt parents to miss issuing the real concern at hand–that is, the children’s choices online, rather than who they “meet.” Thanks for pointing this out.

  4. ShannonMartine

    From the trailer, I wonder if this film only takes place in her room. The idea of cyber harassment is so stifling and isolating that really adds to that imagery of being trapped in a room

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