How to speak up if you’re being bullied or harassed online
A new law that requires companies to make public statements to their customers about online harassment has been hailed by public speaking experts as a win for free speech.
The National Conference of State Legislatures and the American Civil Liberties Union are both backing the new law, which also includes protections for minors and prohibits companies from retaliating against their employees who speak out.
“It’s the right thing to do, but it’s also important for people to understand what’s going on and to know how to speak out,” said Dan Kowalski, a professor of law at George Washington University.
“When they don’t, there’s going to be more bullying.”
The law was written after a wave of online harassment in the United States, with women in particular facing intense scrutiny.
Many companies were already taking steps to address the problem, with Facebook shutting down an account and Google and Twitter making it easier for users to report abuse.
However, the new legislation is the first major step to make companies take on the responsibility of publicly disclosing harassment.
The law also includes measures to prevent online harassment that can be triggered by public statements by employees.
For example, companies could be required to report the nature of the threats, whether they were specific or general, and whether the threats had been reported to law enforcement.
The legislation also addresses retaliation by companies for publicly speaking out, including a provision that would force companies to report such retaliation to the federal government.
“The goal is to make sure companies understand what is happening and how they can respond to it,” Kowumski said.
The bill is part of an ongoing push by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the ACLU to create an online platform for citizens to file complaints of discrimination, harassment and hate speech against companies, which can be passed on to their state legislatures.
The Center for Media Justice, an online advocacy group, estimates that there are about 20 million such complaints filed each year.
Many of the complaints come from employees of companies.
“If you are a member of a company, you have the right to speak,” said Andrea Tumlin, the co-founder of the Center for Public Accuracy, an advocacy group that works on behalf of civil liberties.
“You have the ability to do so.
You are not going to silence someone for doing that.”
The bill also includes new provisions that would require companies to disclose their policies for how they deal with bullying and harassment.
Companies are also required to disclose the names of employees who have been fired, who are under investigation, and who have received a written warning for harassment.
“If a company believes they are in violation of the new reporting requirements, they should be notified,” said Tumlins.
“There’s no place for harassment and retaliation in our society.”