They might have faced a lot of flak for not speaking out against cyber-bullying enough, but now Facebook is backing an anti-bullying bill in Texas.
According to the Star-Telegram, Democratic State Rep. Mark Strama’s anti-bullying bill has received Facebook’s explicit support. Strama’s bill, HB224, is one of seven anti-bullying bills that have been recently introduced into the state’s legislature. The bill explicitly includes cyber-bullying as a form of harassment that school officials must learn how to identify, prevent, respond to, and report.
Under this bill, school districts would have to notify a parent or guardian immediately if their child is involved in a bullying incident, and they would also have the power to transfer bullies or victims to other schools. And on top of the standard conflict-resolution techniques, school employees would have to be trained on technology – we assume, social media and text messaging in particular.
In a letter to Strama, Facebook lobbyist Corey Owens reportedly wrote: “Facebook supports the bill and we are encouraged to see the Texas legislature take steps to keep our schools places where students can feel safe… As a company with a significant presence in Texas – including employees who send their children to Texas public schools – we are committed to building an online platform that is safe for users of all ages.”
The issue of discrimination in schools gained special notoriety this year after a string of suicides committed by gay youths, all of whom had been relentlessly harassed or belittled online or via texts. Facebook and other social networking sites have been accused of helping bullies spread hate, as well as commended for bringing people together against discrimination.