I. Introduction

On September 22, 2010, college freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide after his roommate streamed a video of Tyler kissing another man.1 His story brought the issue of cyberbullying2 to the world stage, garnering intense news media coverage. Public figures, including President Barack Obama, Ellen DeGeneres, and Anderson Cooper spoke out against cyberbullying soon thereafter.

  1. Lisa W. Foderaro, Private Moment Made Public, Then a Fatal Jump, N.Y. Times (Sept. 29, 2010), http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/30/nyregion/30suicide.html.
  2. A number of definitions of “cyberbullying” exist. Social science definitions often start with three concepts: “intent to harm, imbalance of power and usually a repeated action.” Bobbie Mixon, Defining a Cyberbully, Nat’l Sci. Found. (Nov. 8, 2011), http://www.nsf.gov/discoveries/disc_summ.jsp?cntn_ id=121847. Dictionary definitions include “the act of harassing someone online by sending or posting mean messages, usually anonymously.” Cyberbullying, Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/cyberbullying (last visited Apr. 6, 2017). For the purpose of this note, cyberbullying is defined as the use of electronic communication to intentionally cause extreme harassment or embarrassment, beyond what a reasonable person in the victim’s position would expect. This narrow definition provides social networking platforms with a workable definition to help readily distinguish cyberbullying from harmless activity. See, e.g., Carrie Goldman, How Do I Know What’s Bullying and What’s Normal Conflict?, N.Y. Times: Motherlode (Oct. 10, 2014, 8:06 AM), http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/10/10/how-doi- know-whats-bullying-and-whats-normal-conflict (stating that bullying is distinguished from normal social conflict when three factors are present: repetition, unwanted aggression, and a power imbalance)

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Authors: Michael S. Isselin