Social Media gave ways for people to speak to millions anonymously. This has given way for much more hate speech than we have ever seen before. According to an Urban Institute study, 17% of students studied being victims of cyber bullying. From September 2012 to September 2013 there were 9 reported teen deaths from cyber bullying. In 2010, after 5 LGBTQ teens committed suicide over a span of 3 weeks from bullying, major figures like President Obama spoke out through the help of the Trevor Project and use of “It Gets Better” youtube videos. These videos target hate speech and discuss how it may be tough getting through school but that it is a finite time and life outside of it will be better. The video below is President Barak Obama’s response.
This year Dove has teamed up with Twitter to target negative tweets. For Dove, this is an obvious choice as they have targeted women about beauty several times before. For Twitter however, this is something new. Over recent years they have received a lot of negative attention because of their inability to curtail bullying through their app. In 2012, Huffington Post reported that 15,000 bullying-related texts are posted every day on Twitter alone. In a recent attempt, Twitter has used random twitter accounts to reply to occasional users who post tweets about how ugly they are. Through the one response saying they are beautiful, several others join in and they have seen accounts then respond positively saying that they are beautiful. This is what led to the new program where twitter will aim people to use the hashtag #SpeakBeautiful. The thought is if one posts positively, then a trend will start and help stomp out some of the negative tweets. The two companies will air an ad during the Academy Awards pre-show to begin the trend. It only takes one domino.
While this campaign is targeted at the red carpet and how people respond to the celebrities during these devoutly followed events, the ultimate goal is to create change the conversation. Unfortunatly, the message came too late for Iggy Azalea who has quit Twitter for a while after a string of negative tweets.
This teamwork addresses the social responsibility of social media sites. It is obvious that the legal system has not caught up with social media because it developed and has evolved far too quickly for American politics to keep up. Until it can, it will be on the companies to address the issues the best way they can. The responsibility isn’t just on social media websites but also on the companies that use them as well. On Facebook and YouTube, companies provide a space for negative speech through comments on corporate posts. Therefore, a company’s social media job doesn’t end when they post but rather continues as others respond and comment on those posts.