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

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

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Unbiased': Former M&S boss Sir Stuart Rose  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
Crofter's cottages on Lewis. The island's low population density makes it a good candidate for a spaceport (Alamy)  

My Scottish awakening, helped by horizontal sleet

Simon Kelner
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public