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Adult Cyber-Bullying & Harassment in On-line Competitions

Kelly Martin is the author of ‘When Everyone Shines But You’ , a passionate mental health writer, blogger and podcaster.

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What is CYBER BULLYING?

Cyber bullying is when an individual or a group of individuals target someone in a way to belittle them, humiliate them and hurt them online.

The intent is to diminish and tarnish the reputation of the person.

If the cyber bullies were on dry land (aka not the Internet) they would be the kind of bullies you remember from school. The difference being that the internet hides these faceless people so that no law can get to them. Hopefully articles like this will add to the pressure for the growing need for change and law enforcement on places like Facebook, Twitter and chat forums. Bullying online takes many forms, including texting, direct messaging and tarnishing a person's reputation.

For the purpose of this article I will be focusing on the cyber bullying of adults by adults, primarily in relation to bullying in the field of those who enter competitions online.

I have provided a list of links at the bottom for younger people who are victims of cyber bullying.

Winner!

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RAGE AMONG WOMEN - Jealousy & Resentment Builds

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Unfortunately, rage on the Internet by women against women seems to be on the increase. Women tend to be the biggest offenders when it comes to psychological bullying. The media encourages gossiping and belittling of other women, and so many women that bully online think they are doing nothing wrong.

My first experience of cyber bullying was on Facebook. I had begun a new hobby - that of entering competitions to win little and big things. I noticed a growing trend of jealousy and envy around compers (people who enter competitions). Those winning a lot were becoming the target for those who were not.

One day I saw a written attack in a group, where a few members abused a young woman. She was (and still is) a very lucky young woman. She is blessed with winning a lot on Facebook and Twitter.

She stated she had opened a second account and from that moment on it was like watching a pack of wolves descending onto a lamb in a field.

Instead of thinking rationally and checking to see what was true or real, many of them joined in and this victim was called a lot of names, her children were called names and this continued. Nothing was done about this conversation at the time. And the people who abused and bullied this young woman were allowed to stay in the group while the victim was ejected.

This rage continued for 6 months and still continues.

Since experiencing my first evidence of cyber harassment I have experienced first hand the rage of women online. I befriended this woman accused of cheating because I live my life by listening to my heart and to my gut and not to idle gossip. And my eyes saw that these bullies were not just criticising her but tearing her apart. They even began a private group online to moan in, where the owner of the competition group started a thread to further talk about this woman. A long ongoing drama unfolded on that private group, but they made the mistake of inviting me to join. I was told I was disgusting for befriending her and many people unfriended me because they believed the gossip-mongers.

So rage among women needs to stop. I am writing this lens to give voice to those bullied online who are entering competitions and winning.

Who Are The Bullies & Why Do They Bully?

The Whisper

The Whisper

The people that bully on social networks usually have a history of being bullied themselves. They are very insecure, and they put other people down to make themselves feel better. But this better feeling doesn't last, so they have to go on and on bullying. Deep down they are very unhappy people; their lives are deeply painful. They are usually trying to find some outside activity to fill the empty space inside them, which is why they need drama in their lives, and why they are attention seekers. It also explains why they come together in groups, especially extremely negative groups.

They come from all age groups.

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They see themselves as the self-appointed judges of other people, as comping police.

The sad thing is that their aim is to strengthen their cause (to rid social networks of cheats) but they fail do this for the reasons I state further down the page.

Unfortunately, cyber-bullying among adults is not as well documented, or as well researched as amongst children. I came across an excellent description of cyber-bullies with regard to children that fits in with adult comping bullies just as well.

One description is very relevant for cyber-bullying in relationship to those that enter and win competitions.

'MEAN GIRLS' - The last type of cyber-bullying occurs when the cyber-bully is bored or looking for entertainment. It is largely ego-based and the most immature of all cyber-bullying types. Typically, in the "Mean Girls" bullying situations, the cyber-bullies are female. They may be bullying other girls (most frequently) or boys (less frequently).

"Mean Girls" cyber-bullying is usually done, or at least planned, in a group, either virtually or together in one room. This kind of cyber-bullying is done for entertainment. It may occur from a school library or a slumber party, or from the family room of someone after school. This kind of cyber-bullying requires an audience. The cyber-bullies in a "Mean Girls" situation want others to know who they are and that they have the power. This kind of cyber-bullying grows when fed by group admiration, cliques or by the silence of others who stand by and let it happen. It quickly dies if they don't get the entertainment value they are seeking...."

http://www.stopcyber-bullying.org/parents/howdoyou...

MEAN GIRLS

"...This kind of cyberbullying grows when fed by group admiration, cliques or by the silence of others who stand by and let it happen. It quickly dies if they don't get the entertainment value they are seeking...."

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Obsession

What begins as a suspicious mind turns into obsession. The bully not only bullies but spends a lot of time trying to stop the accused. I can only imagine more time is taken to obsess about this than they now spend entering competitions.

One particular bully even set up a separate Twitter account (something they accuse cheats of doing) and used it to follow those people they were suspicious and obsessed about.

I am being followed by this person. They have hidden the Twitter feed so that people cannot see, but its very obvious who it is to those who know. (See personal stories below for further information on this particular brand of obsession).

This particular bully even set up multiple Twitter accounts, carried out identity fraud (stole photos from an accused's profile on Facebook) and then set up multiple accounts on Twitter. They then entered competitions on these accounts with the sole aim of bringing the person they were obsessed about down by making them look like cheats.

Add to this getting others involved, showing them the falsified proof to get not only ordinary compers on their side but also to gain support from well known writers on the topic of competitions, who unfortunately, like many people, trusted the bully and shared this falsified information.

Please read further down the page where I have included first hand experiences of those that were accused.

What Kind Of Things Do The Comping Bullies Do?

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Comping bullies are people who are so desperate to stop lucky people winning that they will go to any lengths to do this.

They will do anything to get lucky people out of the way.

1. They publicly libel the accused.

2. They group together to spread the word about the accused.

3. They harass anyone who is a friend of the accused and demand that they unfriend that person.

4. They then go on to privately attack them through direct messages. When the person blocks them for their own online safety they get others to send harassment via direct message.

5. They will report accounts as a group to get a 'supposed' cheat’s account closed down.

6. They follow this by doing the very thing they accuse the accused of. If they cannot get to the person because they are all blocked, they then create second accounts to bully privately. They also use the second account to spy on people accused.

7. Some bullies (hopefully a rare few) create multiple accounts under the name of someone they accuse, enter competitions on that name, steal the identity of the accused and then pass off falsified information to whoever will listen and offer this as proof that the accused is guilty of cheating (See My Story - for more info on this).

7. Until recently many bullies used the Facebook 'report as spam' button to bully and close other members’ accounts down. Fortunately Facebook put a stop to this and took that option away as it was being constantly misused.

8. They also contact family members of the accused and accuse the family member of being fake and that the accused is using their account to cheat.

9. They contact companies to try to get them to not give the accused the prize they honestly won.

10. They group together to knock the accused off the top spot in voting competitions.

11. And lastly they create more groups with the specific intent to use it to moan, gossip and libel further compers that are lucky.

Comping bullies are extremely paranoid and extremely suspicious of anyone winning a lot.

The TRUTH About Cheating What Is Fact & What Is Fiction?

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I was talking to my best friend just this week about what we could do about all this bullying taking place. I realised that many competition writers have focused on the cheating aspects of competitions and very few have considered or written about the darker side of this process.

He said we cannot fight against these bullies because bullies need reactions, bullies need fuel for their cause and he was right. Bullies cannot be beaten. Unfortunately bullies will always be around.

What can be done is people separating fact from fiction.

When someone is publicly attacked on social networks, check out the facts. Do you have the facts as an outsider looking in? Do you trust on face value what other people say, or do you actually find out the truth of the situation for yourself?

Unfortunately many people believe the bullies. All you need is a group of people headed by a ringleader and the group can appear to be a formidable force. And if more than one person says that person is a cheat then it must be true? Yes? NO!

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This Is My Story

By Anonymous

I never thought I would end up as one of the people getting bullied online. I've never done anything wrong to make people accuse me apart from win a few competitions.

I was accused and abused by people who I thought were my friends. It seemed as though there were maybe 2-3 ring leaders and everyone else had to follow or they would be accused too. I actually had one person message me saying that they had to unfriend me otherwise she would be bullied too.

I didn't know what to do, I explained to them that I hadn't cheated but they wouldn't believe me. I'm a quiet person and not one to fight for myself, so I told them that if they wanted I would either quit comping or delete all my non-comping friends so I couldn't be accused again. I then got accused even more as they said that if they had been accused they would be screaming and shouting to prove it.

I just sat at home quietly and didn't tell anyone at first. When my husband was at work I would sit and cry even to the point of upsetting my son as he didn't know why I was crying.

They sent me nasty messages and accused me of allsorts. I was supposed to have multiple accounts in all different names yet they failed to understand that all my wins were in my name so obviously not won by using a false account.

When I did win they would libel me all over businesses pages and message companies slating me, but luckily the companies who investigated it found nothing wrong and I still got my prize but I felt so humiliated.

I eventually got myself together and made new friends. I started entering competitions again but am always wary when I get friend requests or get a Facebook message. When I win will they still accuse me? I don't think I'll ever get back to my normal self now and will always be scared, but I just need to get on with it.

The TRUTH about CHEATS

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The one sad thing about people bullying compers on social networks is that they miss the true cheats altogether. They spend so much time chasing the comper that may rightly or wrongly have a second profile for personal reasons (want to keep family/work separate from comping) and miss the real cheats that are cheating away right under there noses.

Real cheats, the professionals do not engage with other compers. They do not join comping groups and chat; they do not get to know people; they are silently entering while the bullies’ focus is distracted on those blessed and fortunate winners. And some may even be the ones making the most noise about cheating - now that's a thought!

Yes, there are people with crazy numbers of multiple profiles on Facebook and Twitter but there are also a lot of really genuine, authentic, honest and transparent people being accused on social networks right now by bullies.

Think about it this way. If you go for a walk around a city you will see signs that say you will be fined if you let your dog poop on the pavement without picking it up. The genuine people who pick up do not need the signs but read them anyway. Those people that will let their dog poop everywhere will never read the signs.

So going beyond this smelly analogy, cheats are the same. Real cheats will not read articles on cheating, they will not care what bullies think of them, they will not engage in conversation or groups. Real cheats are good at it for a reason.

How many people are being abused online because bullies have found an easy target for hate, resentment and envy?

Who Do The Comping Bullies Target?

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· Frequent winners.

· Young sensitive women (and men).

· People that share their joys of winning.

. And sometimes they bully minors (children) under the age of 18.

Don't be an accomplice. If you want to win, have a good life, don't encourage bullies, ever!

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Karma - What Goes Around Comes Around

INNOCENT UNTIL 'PROVEN' Guilty

~Naming & Shaming~

The online cyber-bullies (cyber harassment) I have come across have shown an extreme need to name and shame the people they think are cheats. Yes, some people cheat, yet many accused have been innocent.

This naming and shaming has been done without factual evidence, often passed on by word-of-mouth and Chinese whispers; collated, gathered and posted online on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The need to wield power over the accused, to get attention from followers, breeds such an unpleasant energy around these people and groups it does not do them personally any good or their cause.

INNOCENT until PROVEN Guilty seems to be have been neglected with regard to the cyber harassment online.

Fortunately the world is blessed with ‘what we give out we get back’. The genuine cheats will get back what they give out in some form and so will the bullies.

LISTEN to Your GUT

Trust your instincts not the words of others.

Even those who seem to be very knowledgeable with regards to cheats can get it wrong. Sometimes a wide audience can make people feel they have the authority on certain matters. I would like to see a more balanced point of view put across with regards to cheating and those people who are accused. This is why I wrote this Squidoo entry. I felt an increasingly large group of people accused that are innocent who needed a voice and here it is.

While those CYBER-BULLIES have been naming and shaming, moaning and gossiping and spreading lies for a long time now, those that have been bullied have kept mainly quiet, tried to keep below the radar of these obsessive people.

We block on Facebook so that we can enjoy entering competitions again without being cyber-attacked.

We support one another in a safe comping group of over 200 people now.

And we mainly focus on positive things and encourage one another.

Listen to your gut if you are hearing gossip. Believe what feels right for you, not just because it has been said by someone. Don't even believe me. As the Buddha once said....

BUDDHA

"Don't blindly believe what I say. Don't believe me because others convince you of my words. Don't believe anything you see, read, or hear from others, whether of authority, religious teachers or texts. Don't rely on logic alone, nor speculation. Don't infer or be deceived by appearances."

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This Is My Story

By Anonymous

It all began when I started winning stuff every day and they thought I was cheating by having another account.. They then accused my Mum of cheating which was so wrong when she has her own laptop.

I received regular abusive language not just calling me a cheat but calling me names and picking on my appearance and saying that I didn't deserve to win. Even just this week I was publicly called names about my appearance on-line by grown women that should know better. I did nothing to provoke this.

It stopped for a while until recently when the group I am in was posted on another group on Facebook (where they hang out), to advertise our group and then they all ganged up again saying I was still cheating!

The problem their behaviour has caused me is trust. It is hard to know who I can trust now because they spread so many rumours around about me and then people who weren't involved took the bullies side! So I lost many friends that trusted the bullies instead of me.

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LIBEL

Much of what I have read online by the bullies if it was written in newspapers would be classed as libel. And the bullies would be taken to court for lack of evidence and proof.

What happens initially is one person feels annoyed at a person winning for whatever reason and talks to another person, who then talks to another and before you know it you have Chinese whispers flying about and many people believing something that was the personal opinion of another person.

In one of my previous jobs I witnessed grown women gossiping negatively about a member of staff, I initially got involved. It felt very wrong to do so. So after a while I decided not to get involved in any of the gossip and get to know the person being talked about.

I discovered how wrong they all were and how it all stemmed from one person's original 'point of view'.

None of it was factual, nobody actually asked the person where they were coming from on the subjects they gossiped about. Instead they made up reasons why she was that way, they put her down and then were nice to her face. The same happens online.

Instead of questioning the accused most people believe what is written as true and accurate. And if they are having a dry spell with winning, the gossiping, bitching and bullying will increase. Anger attracts angry people and this is what happens in gossip groups online.

Go against the status quo and you are either a target or ejected.

Not long ago I was talked about on a comping forum. Somebody said I entered competitions via the accounts of my husband and my brothers. Actually, I have no husband and I certainly have no brothers. But would anyone believe me? Only those people that do not listen to gossip.

I am glad I have such a public profile on places like Facebook. Companies can clearly see how genuine a person I am by looking at my blogs and my You Tube channel. Other people do not have the benefits of such a real public profile.

Kindness

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INNOCENT

INNOCENT

This Is My Story

By Anonymous

I was using Twitter mainly to comp. I had one account and won 2 or 3 times most weeks: CDs, books, mascara - nothing above £10 . My man also tweeted, about 50 competitions a week and he won a Sony Blu-Ray player and 10 discs. The promoter told him of his win by DM (direct message) - all week tweeters were asking the promoter who had won, but as he works, he never knew, so never replied to anyone.

I've always posted my own and my husband's wins in one album, on view for all to see, via my FB (Facebook) page. I do this mainly as I have the time and also because I enjoy doing so. On seeing this in my album I was instantly judged a cheat and started getting the odd snidy tweet or comment.

This was last November. I ignored everything and carried on, while seeing people block me, and unfollow me. By New Year all was fine - so I thought!

On 16th March, this year, I logged into FB, and saw more than 20 messages, all saying 'cheat, fraud, liar and worse'.

I was confused.

On my page were comments asking me to explain myself, and 3 saying that the police had been notified..

It took 3 hours to establish what had happened. A fake Twitter account had set up loads of accounts, used my details, initials and stolen pics from my Facebook albums. They then used them all to comp from and then added them to one list dedicated to my name.

Somehow they'd set them all on auto tweet to follow my real account alphabetically, and also included my husband's account. They'd used my mum's real name and two of my longest serving friends.

I still never replied to anyone, but gathered all info I could and went to the Police as I felt my pics being wrongly used was a crime. Unfortunately it is not a crime, unless you have copyrighted them. I had no idea who'd done this or why.

Police immediately faxed Facebook admin and Twitter admin and 4 hours later Facebook had stopped me accessing my own account. They left it open to monitor who viewed it, wrote on wall, sent messages etc. They worked with police and monitored for 2 weeks. They decided nothing had occurred that had broken any rules and closed my account. I then had to send ID in order for them to grant me permission to create a new one.

Twitter never ever replied, even to the police.

However, all the impersonation accounts got closed within a month, but whether by Twitter or who ever created them is still not known.

By mid April, I was using this account, but having my competition like and shares marked as spam and the main cyber bullies, alongside a handful of others, were writing on promoters walls, being scathing about me.

By late April I quit comping.

One day on Twitter, mid May, I saw the main bully, ridiculing someone on Twitter, whom I had never heard of before. Feeling for her, I messaged her and she invited me to join the group, and I agreed reluctantly to comp again.

Still the main bully will put rude, cruel comments about me, and I have again done nothing to provoke anyone.

Now it appears the fake account I mentioned above is indeed the main bully, and even though Officers Of The Law are 99% sure, both accounts are still live. It is 100% certain she is another comper also, as my friend who can trace IP (internet provider) addresses is a member of Law Enforcement. Off duty, out of hours, he checked this for me as it is not illegal to trace IPs, as they are open to all if you know how to locate them.

My crime, I feel, was to stupidly believe that a couple could share a comping hobby and as long as terms and conditions never stat