Circulating altered pics is 'cyberbullies' main tactic'

Circulating altered pics is 'cyberbullies' main tactic'

SINGAPORE - The most common act of Singapore cyberbullies is to alter a person's picture to make it look humiliating or obscene, and then circulate the image online via social media or the WhatsApp messaging platform, according to a local study.

More than one-third of students aged 13 and 14 have been the target of such actions.

Next in line is spreading rumours about a person on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with one-quarter of students having fallen victim to it, said cyberwellness research firm Kingmaker Consultancy.

Other ways these bullies torment include intentionally excluding a person from an online group, like an online gaming group, and trolling by hurling vicious remarks, said the Singapore-based Kingmaker. It polled about 1,800 students aged 13 and 14 between January and October on this growing phenomenon.

On Monday, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said the Government plans to put a stop to such behaviour, with new laws to be tabled next year against harassment, whether online or in everyday life.

Citing a Microsoft survey from last year, he said Singapore has the second-highest rate of online bullying out of 25 countries among youths aged eight to 17.

China holds the top spot.

In explaining the main bullying tactic, counsellors blame the abundance of free picture-altering apps and the ease of Web access on smartphones.

These apps allow users to make a person look ugly, old or bald, or add facial blemishes. Some also let users superimpose someone's face on a naked body.

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