MCMC must go after cyberbullying

Malaysia Organisation of Psychospiritual Wellbeing (MOPW) deputy chairman Dr Adnan Omar, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) must follow through with what it said in regards to cyberbullying as lives were at stake.

He emphasized the importance of preventing cyberbullying, noting that it can lead to depression and potentially drive victims to suicidal thoughts.

“Cyberbullying can be much worse than physical bullying because we don’t see the perpetrator, making them hard to track down.

“If MCMC has made a statement that the commission will take action, they must follow through because it’s always a matter of life and death in some cases.

“But of course, laws evolve at a very slow pace because changing them is not easy. However, I think it’s a positive move in the right direction,” he said, reported NST.

He cited a recent incident where artificial intelligence (AI) was misused to generate fake nude images of an individual, illustrating the severe risks associated with cyberbullying.

NST reported on April 25 that individuals were using artificial intelligence (AI) technology to alter photos with the aim of humiliating social media users.

“There are many people who become depressed and commit suicide because of cyberbullying. What can internet authorities do about it?” he asked.

Associate Professor Haslina Muhamad noted that cyberbullying has become increasingly prevalent in the country, with culprits often targeting adolescents and young adults.

She also referenced a 2020 report from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which ranked Malaysia as the second-highest country in Asia for youth cyberbullying.

“A recent Malaysian study discovered that the prevalence of cyber-victimisation and cyber-perpetration stood 31.6 per cent and 20.9 per cent respectively, when examining incidents within the previous month among adolescents aged between 13 and 14.

“Adolescents and young adults aged between 13 and 17 are the ones who spend the most time on social media or other online platforms,” said Haslina of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Anthropology and Sociology.

She added that common types of cyberbullying include harassment, denigration, and exclusion.

“I don’t have the statistics for each type of cyberbullying, but for harassment (60.4 per cent for victimisation and 55.4 per cent for perpetration),” she said.

Therefore, Haslina hopes to see stricter measures implemented to address cyberbullying cases in the country, as the effects on victims extend beyond physical harm to emotional distress.

“Victims typically experience increased levels of stress, anxiety, severe emotional distress, and depression, which if not addressed, can lead to suicide attempts particularly among adolescents and youths due to feelings of helplessness.

“Sometimes stress and worry caused by cyberbullying are seen in headaches, stomach aches, and sleep difficulties, especially among teenagers.

“It affects school performance; some victims will avoid school; becoming socially disconnected increases the feeling of loneliness and isolation and victims can become angry or turn to bad coping mechanisms such as substance misuse,” she said.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil announced that the issue of cyberbullying on social media platforms will be brought before the Cabinet this Friday, July 12.

READ MORE: Cyberbullying will be addressed at next Cabinet meeting