SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A website offers real-time support for those experiencing online harassment and document abuse in a way that could potentially bolster law enforcement cases.
Punching the send button on Twitter, Facebook and email felt like a punch in the face for Samantha Harris.
“Mainly it was about my appearance, or my battle with my eating disorder,” she said. “They would write like: ‘You skinny anorexic B… like you’re gross, go eat something.’”
We first met Samantha two years ago when she was a senior at Del Oro High School launching an anti-bullying campaign. Now, the UCLA sophomore economics and psychology major says the college crowd has been equally cruel.
“My health issues kind of sparked up again in college and were kind of the worst they’ve ever been, and like, it’s just so hard to ignore those things.”
Now enter Heartmob. The site turns the table on aggressors with a click of the mouse. If you receive a hateful message, you can log on and get three options: Develop a safety plan, document harassment and receive support.
“I think with documenting it, is really helpful. Because for me, I’d have to remember to screenshot it and then save it and print it out and have a file for all of the evidence. But this makes it 10 times easier,” she said.
But that ease could still bring trouble according to bullying expert Robert Faris.
“Trolls will pose as bystanders and use the platform to further their abuses, and I would assume they know about that potential and they’re going to have to take safeguards in that,” he said.
According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of all teenagers say they’ve received threatening messages or had embarrassing pictures or rumors posted online.