The term "cyberbullying" was first coined and defined by Canadian educator and anti-bullying activist Bill Belsey, as "the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group that is intended to harm others."
While the actions which make up cyberbullying can vary depending on who you are talking with or what website you are on at the time, as far as we here at deviantART are concerned the act of cyberbullying involves a range of behavior from hostile and aggressive communications, to threats, sexual remarks, hate speech, ganging up on victims by making them the subject of ridicule or humiliation.
The practice of cyberbullying is also not limited to children, when perpetrated by adults toward adults these same behaviors are sometimes referred to as cyberstalking or cyberharassment but regardless of what name you attach to it, cyberbullying has grown into an increasing problem since the behavior was first identified and sadly we have observed that the deviantART community has begun to be used as a platform for these undesired behaviors.
While the type of abusive behaviors which make up the majority of cyberbullying cases have always been prohibited by the deviantART terms of service as well as the deviantART etiquette policy what we have seen over the last couple of years are attempts at what could be called "cyberbullying-by-proxy".
What we call cyberbullying-by-proxy is a situation where rather than directly confront a victim, a bully instead uses a deviation, journal, Group or blog in an attempt to publicly humiliate their intended target or to otherwise direct negative attention towards their victim with the intention of causing other people to do their bullying and tormenting for them.
Deviations which are used in cyberbully-by-proxy attempts typically target their victims in one of several ways, the primary manner involving the taking and publishing of screenshots. These screenshots can display private notes, deviations, or public commentary such as comments or journals and often contain demeaning statements in the descriptions, mocking annotations directly on the screenshot or sometimes both. Many of these screenshots are the result of deliberate efforts of the bully to "bait" an overreaction or dramatic (and therefore amusing) response from their intended target just for the purpose of taking the screenshot for later public humiliation; in some cases even going to far as to screenshot and make efforts to mock those who block them before the baiting gets the desired response.
Regardless of how the screenshot has been obtained, edited or otherwise treated the obvious purpose of the deviation is to mock, taunt, insult or humiliate the victim publicly and this purpose is often enhanced by sharing the deviation through Groups, blogs or journals specifically designed for this purpose.
Previously, in an effort to be as accommodating as possible, we attempted to work with the community in regards to screenshot style submissions for a long time, knowing that while they could show some genuinely funny situations these types of deviations could be used to promote the humiliation and harassment of other members. In our efforts to find a middle ground we did allow screenshots for a time to be submitted providing that they were publicly censored however this simply bred an environment where the censored information was provided in private to anyone who asked and this did little to deter what is actually a problem.
As over time these types of submissions have become more and more focused on the harassment and mocking of other individuals, both here on deviantART as well as on other websites, we have been forced to review our previous lenient approach to how we handle them and as a result of that review we will no longer be tolerating the submission these types of screenshot deviations.
Because of this change we urge all members who may have these submissions in their deviantART gallery to remove them voluntarily rather than to have them removed by our staff and have that removal associated with your profile records.
While our current focus at addressing cyberbullying is currently directed at deviations we are not ignoring journals, blogs, or Groups which may be designed for the same purpose. Currently we will be evaluating these on a case-by-case basis as we continue to review and assess our current policies towards bullying and harassment.