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Losing Teens, Facebook Takes on Cyberbullying

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Losing Teens, Facebook Takes on Cyberbullying

James Emery

A young girl looks at a photo of herself she just uploaded onto Facebook.

After reports that Facebook is losing teen users, the social network has released a way for parents and children to deal with cyberbullying.

The new step is considered a beneficial but belated one, according to NPR. Facebook's new Safety Center about bullying is considered a prevention hub with resources for teachers, teens and parents on how to deal with both online and offline bullying. There will also be ways for users to deal offensive posts which mainly consists of engaging the potential cyberbully.

"There's a lot of literature on how people interact face to face. ... What we're trying to do is apply those studies to an online setting. And it's tough," said Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld. "People are really hungry for help."

To us, this seems like the least amount of help Facebook could give, especially when it seems to have been ground zero for most of the teen cyberbullying in the media. A 12-year-old girl, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, committed suicide in September after being harassed on Facebook.

Jim Steyer, chief executive for Common Sense Media which supports safe technology for children, seemed to agree. "We think cyberbullying is an enormous challenge facing every young person," Steyer told NPR. "Facebook has been a big part of the problem in this area."

Facebook has been losing young teen users, according to a recent report. David Ebersman, Facebook chief financial officer, said during the company's third-quarter earnings call that the social network saw a drop in teen usage. The drop is likely because of recent photo-sharing apps such as Snapchat and Whatsapp. Perhaps the new emphasis on cyberbullying is a way to help keep its remaining young teens. 
 
Despite the hoopla, Facebook's effort may be too little, too late. If Facebook is serious, then it has to be committed to anti-bullying, including adopting the new policy for all its properties including Instagram. As Steyer says about bullying, "These sites have to take way more responsibility for this."

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