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Why People Post Benevolent and Malicious Comments Online


Why People Post Benevolent and Malicious Comments Online, illustration

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With the proliferation of smart devices and mobile and social network environments, the social side effects of these technologies, including cyberbullying through malicious comments and rumors, have become more serious. Malicious online comments have emerged as an unwelcome social issue worldwide. In the U.S., a 12-year-old girl committed suicide after being targeted for cyberbullying in 2013.20 In Singapore, 59.4% of students underwent at least some kind of cyberbullying, and 28.5% were the targets of nasty online comments in 2013.10 In Australia, Charlotte Dawson, who at one time hosted the "Next Top Model" TV program, committed suicide in 2012 after being targeted with malicious online comments. In Korea, where damage caused by malicious comments is severe, more than 20% of Internet users, from teenagers to adults in their 50s, posted malicious comments in 2011.9

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Recognizing the harm due to malicious comments, many concerned people have proposed anti-cyberbullying efforts to prevent it. In Europe, one such campaign was called The Big March, the world's first virtual global effort to establish a child's right to be safe from cyberbullying. The key motivation behind these campaigns is not just to stop the posting of malicious comments but also to motivate people to instead post benevolent comments online. Research in social networking has found benevolent comments online are not alone but coexist in cyberspace with many impulsive and illogical arguments, personal attacks, and slander.14 Such comments are not made in isolation but as part of attacks that amount to cyberbullying.


 

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