Facebook fuses emotion into its tagging, cyberbullying updates
Communication on Facebook started with the simple, emotionally vague “poke.”
Over the past eight years, many features have been added to the social network, multiplying the ways people can interact with each other. You can chat and message someone, tag them in a photo or a post, check them into a location, post on their timeline or mention them in your own posts.
A negative side effect of all these exchanges is that the potential for miscommunications and conflicts has also boomed, ranging from an adult not liking how they look in a tagged photo to cyberbullying among teenagers.
To make it easier to catch and resolve volatile situations early on, Facebook is changing how content is reported, the company announced Wednesday. It’s giving users tools to better communicate their feelings and handle conflicts themselves. The changes are the result of collaborations with Yale, Columbia and Berkeley that involved months of research and focus groups with kids, teachers and clinical psychologists.
The first change is specifically for 13- and 14-year-olds (you have to be at least 13 to sign up for a Facebook account). If a boy in that age range wants to report a mean or threatening post or image a schoolmate has put on Facebook, he can click “This post is a problem” (a new phrase chosen to replace the stiff “Report”) and go through a series of casually worded questions to determine what kind of issue he’s having and how serious it is. There’s even a grid for ranking his emotions.
Once he finishes the questions, a list of suggested actions is generated based on how pressing his complaint is. If the boy is more annoyed than than fearful, he might choose to send a pre-written message to the other person saying that the post makes him uncomfortable. If he is afraid, he will be prompted to get help from a trusted friend or adult. There are links to catch anyone who may be feeling suicidal and direct them to professionals and Facebook’s own suicide chat hotline.
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