How Cyberbullying Can Affect Your Dating Life

Woman used social media to destroy her ex; she's now ordered to pay $200K.

Posted Jan 13, 2020

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Source: Pexels

January and February can be considered a busy time of year for online dating. Finding a partner through the internet has become one of the most common ways to meet people; 59 percent of American adults agree, according to PEW Research.

Online behavior is your online reputation.

Have no doubt, the majority of people will run an internet search on someone before they date them. A YouGov Omnibus survey uncovered that over half of Americans (56 percent) have taken to the internet to research a person before dating them.

If you are being cyber-bullied, defamed, or attacked online, this can affect not only your dating life but potentially your employment and emotional wellness. 

Brandon Rook, a business consultant, experienced this when his ex-girlfriend, Noelle Halcrow, a self-described social media influencer, used her keypad as a weapon to harm him.

Using Instagram and other websites, she called him a cheater, a drunk, and claimed he carried STDs. She mounted an extensive hate campaign until Rook took legal action.

The judge wrote in his ruling:

“The courts have recognized that the internet can be used as an exceedingly effective tool to harm reputations. This is one such case."

Rook was awarded $175,000 in general damages and $25,000 in aggravated damages. The judge also awarded Rook more than $38,000 to compensate for what Rook had spent hiring reputation consultants to help get the defamatory posts off the internet as well as court costs.

Protecting your digital footprint.

You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Today, that first impression is usually what the internet has to say about you. Will the average person take the time to determine cyber-fact from fiction? Sadly, not likely—it's too easy to move on to the next applicant, business, or relationship. 

Cyberbullying is human behavior, it's not something we can control, but we can control how we respond to it.

  1. Assess the situation. Tweetstorms can be temporary, but the search results can be long-lasting. You can run a free ReputationDefender®Report Card to review how others see you online.
  2. Don't engage if you feel it will get volatile. It will only create more negative visibility to the cyberbully, which is exactly what they want.
  3. Document everything. Screenshot your evidence, you don't know if you will need it later. If you need to block the cyberbully, you may want to ask a friend to monitor them in case it escalates.
  4. Report and flag the abuse. Review the platform's TOS (terms of service) so you can report the cyberbullying in accordance with the platforms' guidelines and how the person is violating them. It might be abusive language, nudity, racism, personal information, etc. You are more likely to get it taken down if you follow their procedure for harassment and abuse.
  5. Start building positive content about yourself through social media and blogs. The weapon that harmed you is the tool that will rebuild you.

Finally, if you have reached a point where your cyberbully is not stopping and ruining your good name, like in the case of Brandon Rook, it might be time to pursue the legal road. 

According to California attorney, Mitch Jackson, reasons to file a lawsuit are to: 

  1. Identify the troll (bully) if you don't know who is behind the posts.
  2. Stop the harm.
  3. Obtain an injunction.
  4. Seek monetary damages.

"By filing a lawsuit, your lawyer will have subpoena power and access to the social media platform's records as they pertain to the troll," Jackson says. "It brings in a judge who will oversee the entire matter and make sure the troll follows his or her ruling and orders. It also sends a message that he or she will be held accountable and that his or her life is about to change forever, for the worse..." 

Jackson also notes that pursuing a legal case is no easy task.

Finally, if you fear you are in physical danger, being extorted (or sextortion) reach out for help immediately.

Resources for victims:

Cyber Civil Rights Initiative

SOS Online Network

Carrie Goldberg, Victims Advocate

Without My Consent

References