Ban and the bullies will only go elsewhere

Shutting down one site won't combat the massive problem of cyberbullying

Related Topics

Hateful and vile; the two words David Cameron recently used to describe undeniably controversial website And who can blame him for laying such claims?

The most recent in a string of suicides linked to the website has caused a media storm so vast that many have been left wondering whether it should exist at all. Bullies anonymously told schoolgirl Hannah Smith to 'go die', 'drink bleach' and 'get cancer' online and soon after the 14 year old committed suicide, and was found in her bedroom by her older sister.

Her mother has understandably called for a mass boycott of the site (which has recently reached 70 million registered users) whilst BT, Specsavers, Vodafone and Save the Children were quick to pull their advertisements in the wake of the scandal. As much as I would like to believe these actions will even dent the can of worms that is cyberbullying, I do not share the widely held belief that outlawing will see an end to this epidemic by any means. 

We must face it; there are some people who simply aren't nice enough to use There are several teenagers who certainly aren't nice enough to use should be used for unearthing teenaged crushes, finding out what a classmate really thinks of your new haircut and maybe at the very worst, to swipe answers for a looming mid-week maths test. Instead it’s used to alienate and ostracise peers, at a time when life is all growth spurts and greasy hair and most could do without any more reason to self loathe. An unfortunate cocktail of vulnerability, anonymity and often jealousy leaves hatred at the helm of a potentially inoffensive website. as a concept is not wholly flawed. The idea of being able to anonymously ask questions isn't a necessarily a threatening one. It isn't an intrinsically harmful site; but it does have a handful of harmful individuals behind it. The same tragic events will only be repeated via another social media site if is banned, as it has already begun to be. Trolls have merely emigrated from one website to another, already bombarding Hannah's Facebook tribute page with snide remarks about her parents and brushing her passing off as 'one pathetic suicide case'. And this isn't the first occurrence; American teenager Amanda Cummings' made worldwide news when her Facebook memorial page was subject to a barrage of sick messages at the hands of bullies. is a community for the cowardly, a lounge for the lily-livered and a get-out-of-jail-free card for the gutless. But so are countless other places on the web. Trawl most forums and you'll see a cyber-confidence instilled in commentators akin to that of Harry Potter, slinking around Hogwarts under his invisibility cloak. Cyberbullies thrive off anonymity and the threat of only a virtual ass-kicking.

Like thousands of other sites, remains a vehicle for the cruel to do the dirty with virtually no repercussions. It offers no more incentive to insult other than 'just because'. Its offered anonymity is no different to the creation of fake accounts internet trolls are so fond of on other forms of social media. If we take down, do we really take down cyberbullying as a whole, the same cyberbullying that took place before (and will surely take place after) its existence? People trolled on Myspace, bullied on MSN and now victimise on Twitter and Facebook; when children want to bully, they will bully anywhere and by any means. Until we teach them the serious effects of their behaviour, prohibiting will merely send a generation of cyberbullies in their droves to another site.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A police officer carries a casualty to safety  

Tunisia attack proves that we cannot stop terrorists carrying out operations against Britons in Muslim countries

Robert Verkaik
Alan Titchmarsh MP?  

Alan Titchmarsh MP? His independent manifesto gets my vote

Jane Merrick
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?