As the Quebec election campaign heats up, some politicians are speaking out about how hateful comments on social media are negatively affecting them and their loved ones. Meanwhile on TikTok, some Quebec students are using the “J’expose” trend to call other students names. But you can’t say whatever you want just because you’re on social media!
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying means bullying someone using a technology like social media.
It can be a crime to bully someone on social media, even though you won’t see the word “cyberbullying” in the Criminal Code. A person can report online messages, posts, or comments to the police if these messages cause them to fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. They can also report public posts or comments that are intended to harm their reputation or are verbally abusive.
A person can also sue someone else in civil court for publishing these kinds of posts or comments. In this case, a court could order the person who published the posts or comments to pay the victim for the harm this person suffered.
What factors does a civil court consider?
In a civil case about publicly posting insults or rumours online, the court considers whether the person behind these posts was at fault. Would a reasonable person have published those kinds of posts in that situation? The court also considers whether the posts harmed the victim.
Here’s an example from a recent case. Someone insulted members of his family and spread rumours about them in TikTok videos. These family members sued him in civil court. He was ordered to pay them $16,000 for the harm he caused them.
The court decided that the videos were intended to harm the family members’ reputations and could cause other people to think badly of them. These videos also caused the family members to experience anxiety, trouble sleeping, and fear that the videos would come back to haunt them in the future.
What’s the bottom line? Think twice before you post something on social media!