Stricter laws for cyber-bullying in Singapore - it’s about time

Go on, feel free to stalk, harass, or even make snarky remarks online. If you have deep pockets to pay hefty fines, that is
Stricter laws for cyber-bullying in Singapore - it’s about time

Last we heard, the Singapore Government has introduced stiffer penalties for harassment, including cyber-bullying.

Yes, Singapore’s a fine city. The Protection from Harassment Bill sounds harsh, but it’s about time we came down hard on cyber-bullies.

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But, people are just being snarky and don’t mean any harm

Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me? That’s utterly false.

This is especially pertinent when you notice how vindictive people are on social media. Cases of online harassment have increased exponentially. Videos showing a student challenging a teacher and demanding an apology, girls hazing (no, not the air freshener) each other, and even degrading comments on social networks will now fall under online harassment.

For the lack of a better term, these keyboard warriors hide behind a screen and think they’re safe from persecution when they hurl written abuse on Facebook or Twitter.

Not anymore.

Wait, does this mean I can’t check out and leave comments on strangers' Facebook profile?

Not to the point of asking where they live, then lying in wait outside their house just to steal a glance at them.

The new bill will deter would-be stalkers and harassers from performing cyber-attacks. As long as you’re not causing distress to anyone, both offline and online, you’re safe.

If you ever end up as a victim of a psycho stalker who constantly bombards your Facebook wall with love confessions, you can seek a cease-and-desist, confront them, and demand they remove any offensive posts. Not that Facebook isn’t protecting you from stalkers with its policies already, but you the law's on your side.

Knowing where the line is

Like my friends, I can be a real jerk when I post on social media. In an endearing way (I hope).

We ride each other hard, making stabs at the stupid things we say online. Heck, I got so much flak on Facebook for one of my favourite shirts, it made me really self-conscious and I started wearing it less often.

But we always know where the line is. Sometimes, when we do cross it, and I quote Joey Tribbiani from F.R.I.E.N.D.S., saying we're “so far past the line that you can't even see the line! The line is a dot to you!”, we would simply say so. We don't need the law to remind us to take a step back. 

What I can’t live with, is how people tend to have a herd mentality and band together to ostracise and ridicule people who annoy us. That, to me, is the absolute line that I’ll never cross. Ganging up on someone in a hateful way can cause lasting damage, whether you know them or not. 

So people, you can be snarky, but don’t be a jerk just because you want to fit in. It could get you into hot soup with these new laws.

You’re killing us! Where’s the freedom of speech?

We’re not saying you shouldn’t voice your opinions, but exercise some moderation and don’t take things too far. Anything that goes online is cached, and when you’re facing a much stricter penalty than before, you’ll need to think before you click. A S$5000 fine, and even a 12-month jail term hurts like hell. But if you're not an ass, you shouldn't be worried.