internet suicides

Much to his delight, Jerome, an excellent but shy pupil in terminale received a message on his Facebook page from Sylvie, one of the most popular girls in the school. She told him that she had been watching him for some time but was scared of approaching him because he was so clever, etc. etc. Their online correspondence went on for several months, Sylvie insisting that it remain secret, eventually becoming quite erotic. Finally, Sylvie persuaded Jerome to strip for her in front of his webcam.

The next morning he got to school to find the video playing on all the social networks – mobiles, YouTube etc. – and that the whole romance had been a set up by a group of boys in his class.
Every time he walked past anyone they started miming a striptease or jeering him.

Jerome started faking illness and missing lessons; his marks went down and he begged his parents to let him leave school and start afresh at a different lycée.
Eventually, he decided to grit his teeth and finish his bac and finally the mockery died down.

But not all students find the strength to go on, as witnessed by three teenagers who lived through similar circumstances and who recently committed suicide.

So, apart from giving up all social media, what precautions can you take to avoid falling victim to a similar scenario? 

Prevention is best

Firstly, it is essential to understand that nothing that goes out on the internet can ever be "rubbed out". This includes instant messaging and online chats which can easily be copied and circulated.

Beware webcams: anyone can get hold of software which allows them to make videos out of webcasts.

What to do when it's too late

Firstly, you can try reasoning with the person who is bullying you – face to face, not via social media.

If the bullying stems from an online forum, contact the owner of the forum and ask them to remove the offending item; threaten them with a defamation claim if necessary.

Go to the authorities:  Copy the offending page and contact the site CNIL (Commission national de l'informatique et des libertes) or the government site with your implant and asking them to get the page taken down.

You can also contact "net cleaning" services such as "Net Offensive", "Réputation squad" or "agence CSV". These services don't delete the pages but "drown" them with positive content. This service, however, is paid for,  and costs vary depending on the seriousness of the defamation. Most student cases are resolved for around 100€ (as opposed to around 3,000€ for larger businesses.)

(names in this article have been changed)

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