Cyber bullying fueled by online influencers
China Daily

(Photo: VCG)

Ten days after losing her son in an accident, his mother committed suicide. A double tragedy.

After her son died when he was hit by a teacher's car at his primary school, the mother accepted media interviews in which she expressed her grief and insisted that the teacher concerned be punished. Yet in the comment sections of the news reports and unauthorized video clips, rather than sympathy she received a torrent of abuse. Some accused her of wanting "a better price" for her son's death, while some even picked on what she was wearing.

Such online vitriol is like a soft knife that kills without people necessarily realizing how sharp the blade is. Some accounts were silenced for breaking the rules after the mother killed herself. Accounts such as one called "e you zheng neng liang" (Hubei has positive energy) with 1.25 million followers, have such a huge influence in the public opinion field that their followers could easily blindly follow their comments, which are often sensationalized eyeball bait. These accounts have influence and they should use it responsibly rather than being the leaders of cyber bullying.

It is not so easy for those making online character attacks to escape penalty because every word posted is recorded on social networks. The local police in Wuhan have reportedly been probing whether the online abuse led to the mother's suicide and if charges should be brought against anyone.

One notable point in almost all online violence cases is that violence doers can always accurately locate the weakest point in any public incident onto which they pour their humiliation. They know who is easy prey for them to bully.

They are shameful cowards.