Does SnapChat Facilitate Cyberbullying?

Steelers' safety Sean Davis allegedly ridiculed a young boy who works at a drive-thru window in a fast food restaurant by posting a video he took of him to Davis' SnapChat account in December 2017. The parents of the boy have filed a civil lawsuit against the player.

The parents allege that, on the posting, Davis laughed and stated, "Chick-fil-A got little kids. This kid is like eight years old. No wonder the lines be so long at Chick-fil-A."

According to the family, those "false and defamatory statements in the video" have caused the boy "severe emotional distress" including humiliation, embarrassment and physical ailments, such as headaches, depression, sleeplessness and anxiety.

Davis' counsel states that the player has denied "all of the unfounded claims" against him and is prepared to defend "this meritless lawsuit to the fullest extent under the law." Renatta Signorini "Pine family claims in lawsuit Steeler Sean Davis cyberbullied teen in Snapchat video," (Feb. 27, 2018).

Commentary and Checklist

Statistics show that, as of the first quarter of 2017, SnapChat reported 166 million daily active users worldwide. In addition, there are 48.04 million monthly active users of the app in the United States alone.

These statistics confirm that SnapChat is one of the fastest growing trends, especially among teens. With so many active users, the app has become an ideal place for bullies to target their victims.

SnapChat attracts bullies because images and videos disappear within 10 seconds after being viewed. Bullies don’t want to leave any evidence of what they are doing at the risk of being caught.

Bullies also like to get as many people involved as possible, and spreading a photo or video through SnapChat is easier and faster than on other social media.

Cyberbullies may or may not be aware of the effects of what they post online about a victim. Here are some facts about cyberbullying:

  • Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. This includes such things as texting, demeaning emails, posted embarrassing photos, and fake profiles.
  • Recent statistics from the National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice found nine percent of students in grades six to 12 experience cyberbullying.
  • Fifteen percent of high school students (grades nine to 12) were electronically bullied in just one recent year.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that long-term bullying can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, and increased feelings of sadness and loneliness.
  • Cyberbullying increases the risk of suicide even more than traditional bullying.
  • Cyberbullying can occur 24/7, with anonymous postings that are shared with hundreds of people.
  • Cyberbullying is a crime if it includes threats of violence; child pornography or sexually explicit messages or photos; taking a photo or video of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy; stalking; or hate crimes.
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