The terrible experience of youths in the cyber world
November 10, 2022
Joba Chakma (pseudonym) is a fourth-year student at Jahangirnagar University. She was harassed on social media, just for having the title ‘Chakma’ with her name. She even removed the Chakma surname from his personal Facebook profile out of fear and anger.
She said, “If I had commented on any public post, many people sent me friend requests. They used to knock on the messenger. If I did not answer, they would abuse me, send porn videos, and add me to bad Facebook groups.”
“At one stage, I started replying on social media and messenger. But it is the opposite; even more personal attacks” said Joba Chakma.
Both her studies and personal life suffered due to these reasons. Later, she started suffering from severe depression. But now she has learned to handle herself after joining a wonderful venture.
Joba Chakma said, “From the Fostering responsible digital citizenship (FRDC) project she learned what to do if she is harassed online, and how to express herself in a healthy way that does not hurt others.”
“Besides, I learned about digital footprint and legal assistance against those who cannot take constructive criticism,” she added.
She said “Now I know how to express my opinion responsibly in an independent and constructive way. I also know how and what to comment on in any place. This project has helped many students, not just Joba Chakma, to navigate the internet world with awareness, especially how to use social media effectively.”
Funded by the European Union (EU), the project is jointly implemented by Dnet and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom. Around 4000 youths have been connected under the FRDC project so far.
Basically, in this country, social media users are seen to be victims of cyberbullying due to religion, caste, or gender.
Bhaskar De Dhraba, a university student, was harassed during Durga Puja in 2021.
On the morning of the Maha Ashtami of Durga Puja in October, 2021, the Holy Quran Sharif is seen in the temporary puja mandap on the north bank of Nanua Dighi in Comilla city. After that, a group of people attacked the mandap, accusing it of desecrating the Quran. There was widespread vandalism.
Bhaskar de Dhruba claimed that while presenting counter-arguments in the comments of others’ Facebook posts as a Hindu, he got the offensive words.
Dhruba said, “Many people bully me about my religion even under the guise of joking. During the puja, some of my friends make bad comments when I post pictures of idols on Facebook, which feels bad.”
He said that he learned about media and information literacy from the FRDC project of Dnet. He got proper guidance in these matters by taking free courses on digital citizenship from the project website https://www.digitalcitizenbd.com.
Dhruba also said that by taking FRDC project courses, he learned about some laws, which he had no idea about before. He learned that it is a criminal offence to threaten someone in the cyber world. Being aware of these laws, he is able to avoid breaking the law unknowingly, so he can take action against someone who commits an offence against him.
Not only with name and religion, but also with physical structure and clothes, many people are victims of bullying through social media. Besides, many people are bullied online or offline due to being physically ‘fat’.
Dhruba said, “There was a time when I was afraid to upload pictures due to fear of bullying. I was also trying to lose weight. But now I have come out of that panic.”
University student Ira said “I am afraid to upload pictures on Facebook for fear of body shaming. Since I am very skinny, I upload temporary (for a short time) pictures in fear of who will comment on how I look in the dress.”
Fostering responsible digital citizenship (FRDC) launched its educational website in 2020. The first educational website on digital citizenship education in Bangladesh. This website is helping the young generation to become responsible citizens by creating a culture of positive communication in the digital world and encouraging them to express their opinions freely and safely online.
The website consists of eight free courses designed to teach students the ways in which they can interact in the virtual environment in a safe, positive, and competent manner. After successfully completing the free courses, you will get an online certificate, which can be downloaded from the profile page.
Asif Ahmed Tanmoy, Joint Director of Dnet, said “A digital citizenship handbook and e-learning website have been created for the purpose of the FRDC project. Directly conducting various activities in 3 public universities and 2 private universities of Dhaka and Rajshahi in which 100 teachers and 4000 students have been added so far.”
M Shahadat Hossain, Executive Director of Dnet, said “Digital media is used for derogatory and fraudulent purposes. Religious minorities, minority ethnic groups, the LGBT community and free thinkers are victims of online harassment and threats.
“To solve this problem, an advocacy brief has been prepared to bring about positive change in society based on discussions with FRDC project experts, lawyers, journalists and policymakers” he added.