Canadian Cyberbullying Target Takes Harasser Down And Turns Vigilante, Because Sometimes We Are Our Own Best Protectors
Cyberbullying is never OK, and it absolutely shouldn't take the threat of suicide to get authorities to intervene on one's behalf. But that was Andrea Ng faced after she repeatedly reported an inappropriate photo of herself to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada's federal law enforcement, as Vice accounts. The snapshot, which Ng had posted on Facebook when she was 16, was a selfie she'd taken before a school dance in a pink dress. Three years later, in 2013, it resurfaced on a face Facebook account in her name — only the dress had been removed and breasts had been added via a photo editing program, rendering her to appear topless in the once innocent picture. To make matters worse, her attacker had added many of Ng's friends and family members as friends. Facebook deleted the account, but the photo resurfaced on Tumblr and Twitter this year like a recurring nightmare. And the photo went viral. Ng was devastated, Vice says:
"Whenever it happened, I was so upset I couldn't sleep. I didn't even know how to make it stop. I kept waking up in the morning, worried it could happen again."
When the photo appeared on Twitter, the perpetrator began following Ng's friends, classmates and companies at which she'd applied for internships. It appears this person may have known Ng personally, and had some sort of ax to grind. Cyberbullying has become more prevalent in recent years, and as various countries have passed legislation against such tactics, it has become easier to prosecute. But laws vary country to country and even state to state, and the RCMP allegedly didn't take Ng's pleas for help with removing the inappropriate photo seriously because she didn't appear to be suicidal. "She says an officer told her they couldn't investigate further, partly because she didn't appear to be suicidal over the situation," Vice writes.
So Ng brought her assailant down herself. She took to her blog, posting the original selfie beside the edited "naked" one that had been torturing her for two years. As she writes, the RCMP told her that "nothing could be done," and were rather dismissive of her case when she called them in 2013 and again this year. Ng writes of a conversation she had with police, in which she referenced Amanda Todd, a very serious victim of cyberbullying, who killed herself in 2012. She writes that the officer told her,
"Well, I have confidence that you would not harm yourself because of this situation, and unless this situation becomes more serious I will then put more resources towards this case." [sic]
So far, so good. The photo hasn't reappeared on social media since Ng published her story on her blog. "I feel like I'm in control of my life, that this person can no longer hurt my feelings," she told Vice. What's more, she wants to help others who are the targets of cyberbullying. Though she expressed that she hopes police will take such cases more seriously as time passes and more people report these types of crimes, she's also acutely aware of the very real possibility that vigilante tactics might have to be adopted. As she told Vice, "In the meantime, if people need help, they can contact me. I've got their back." What a badass.
Image: Pexels; WiffleGif