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Facebook Gossip or Cyberbullying?

Monday, Aug. 15, 2011

Best student comment wins a $50 Amazon Gift Certificate.  Responses must be received by midnight August 21, 2011.

Paige, a college freshman, needed to put the finishing touches on a poli sci paper that was due at 11. After her 9 a.m. class, she returned to her room in the residence hall to check the footnotes, but when she unlocked the door, her roommate Cheyenne was in bed with the comforter pulled up above her head.

Paige flicked on the light. It wasn't her problem that Cheyenne was such a party girl. She hadn't come home the night before, and that was hardly the first time. She decided to ignore Cheyenne and opened her laptop to begin her work. But when she started typing, Cheyenne growled at her to go somewhere else.

Paige had told some friends to come by her room before class, and now she had to let them know she wouldn't be there. On her way out of the residence hall, she posted a new status to her Facebook: "Cheyenne (AKA the skank) is sleeping it off in the room. I'll be in the library."

By the time she reopened her laptop, her friend Ivy had commented on her status: "That girl is going to be pregnant before midterms." And Leanne followed with lol.

Paige was astonished when she got back from dinner that night to be approached by Tara, the Resident Fellow on her floor. Tara said she wanted to talk with Paige about cyberbullying Cheyenne.

Do you think Paige was engaged in cyberbullying? If so, do you think the university should get involved in the issue?


Some resources you may find useful:

A Framework for Ethical Decision Making 

 Destructive Bullying 

Facebook Crimes on Rise


Photo by Herbstkind available under Attribution- Non Commercial- No Derivs License.

Comments Comments

Allie said on Aug 15, 2011
I think this would be considered cyberbullying. Anytime another student goes out of their way purposely hurt another student by bringing them down either by name calling or saying hurtful things is not ok. The fact that she wrote the girls name with the word "skank" attached is really crossing the line and completely immature. I understand venting but I think a more illusive post along the lines of "crazy how people can sleep all day..' or something of that nature might be more appropriate. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Jason said on Aug 17, 2011
I think that Paige definitely crossed the line by posting that Cheyenne was a "skank" on Facebook for all her friends (not just the ones she was planning on meeting) to see. Even though Cheyenne is at fault for having partied the entire night before, the issue should have been kept strictly between the two of them. By posting the message on Facebook, Paige escalated the situation to include all her online friends, who would be able to see her status and comment on it. I don't think there is any doubt that this would constitute cyberbullying at its worst-not only did Paige post an inflammatory comment for her entire online network to see, but her friends also added to the abuse and collectively ganged up on Cheyenne by commenting on the status. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Melissa said on Aug 17, 2011
In this day and age people often post things without thinking, or make comments for the sake of venting that they regret later. Paige crossed a line with her roommate, but while her comments were harsh and distasteful, I don't think her status update alone was enough to constitute as cyberbullying. I think that call is made judging on the reactions to her post. When her friends joined in saying rude things about Clare, it lead to a string of comments that would have more implications for Clare's reputation. By making the issue public, one little roommate incident incident quickly lead to defamation of Clare's character. At this point it makes sense for the RA to step in and classify this as a case of harassment or cyberbullying. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Kati Carson said on Aug 17, 2011
I think it started off as venting, however, one shouldn't ever really do that on Facebook or any social media outlet. I don't think there should be any kind of punishment for cyber bullying in this case because there is only one incident which seemed to be caused by poor judgement. They should most definitely have roommate counseling though and if needed, one should move out. Both should be aware that negative comments of that sort on social networking sites are not to be tolerated. - Like - 3 people like this.
Amando said on Aug 21, 2011
This is right on the verge to being cyberbullying; although it was wrong of Paige to post this onto her Facebook, I don't think it should be considered cyberbullying, since it was a one time incidence. The term 'slut' clearly is offensive and Paige should have to face consequences, in this case a warning from the RA should do. Additionally Paige should be informed about cyberbullying - what is okay and what isn't. - Like - 6 people like this.
Miriam said on Aug 23, 2011
Let's grant right away that Paige has been sorely tried by her roommate Cheyenne's behavior. I, for one, would resent being asked to leave my own room because my roommate was nursing a hangover and my typing was bothering her! But Paige's reaction--though unwittingly--is worse than the behavior she's been subjected to. Cheyenne has only irritated Paige. Paige has broadcast Cheyenne's business to the entire online world (or at least to her Facebook friends). Gossip itself is not a good thing, even spread by word of mouth. It's hurtful and it often keeps the gossiper from actually doing something about the problem; ranting is so much easier. Online, it's worse because it can spread so far so fast. By the time Paige returns to her dorm, her RF already knows about her comments. Because students so often text or message rather than actually talk, they may forget that these forms of communication are quite different. Digital comments are like gossip with a bullhorn. While one incident may not rise to the level of cyberbullying, Paige needs to find another way to vent. - Like - 1 person likes this.
Holly 941 said on Sep 12, 2011
well...firstly, I would picture myself in this situation...I wouldn't want to post about a friend of mine on facebook that she is AKA a skank...esp. not someone that I share a room with....but technically I wouldn't comment that she cyberbullied...I think her other friend, Ivy, crossed the line by posting such a rude comment.....But i would say Paige definitely crossed the line and should have kept her frustration to herself....I wouldn't want to find out that I was called a skank on of the largest social network!!! But all in all, all forms of internet harassment via facebook, whether direct or indirectly should not be put up for everybody to see!!!! its just so wrong!!! Paige was very wrong, bur I wouldn't confirm it as cyberbullying.... )= - Like - 2 people like this.
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Tags: bullying, campus free speech, college, college students, decisions, dorm life, ethics, Facebook, partying, residence hall, The Big Q