A normalization of violence: how cyberbullying began and how to fight it | Life and style

“If you’re in the media you are familiar with how things work online, but for an average person these types of interactions could be terrifying,” said Whitney Phillips, author of This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.

So how did we get here? And what should we do about it?

Determined bullies have always found ways to antagonize others, but digital tools have given them new powers. Fifty years ago if you wanted to wind up a co-worker you could write anonymous messages and leave them on his or her desk.

Trolling and cyberbullying have been part of the internet since its inception – a side effect of anonymity and unfettered free expression, both critical pillars of the web. Once restricted to niche forums and chatrooms with their own codes of conduct, ubiquitous social media has brought it into the mainstream.