Here’s a sampler of the kinds of cases the Helpline helped schools with:
Cross-platform content deleted. Students set up an ASKfm account and then used information on it to post similar content on a private Twitter account. Both pages contained content that violated the services’ Terms of Service so we escalated the case first to ASKfm, and the account was deleted right away. Reporting the Twitter account was a little harder because it was private, but through screen shots that school staff were able to obtain from student leaders, we were able to verify that the content constituted harassment and report it to Twitter, which removed the account immediately.
Account sharing nude photos deleted. A middle school counselor called about nude photos of one of her students being shared on the Toronto-based Kik messenger app, apparently by another student. She had reported the case to local law enforcement and gotten no response. Kik deleted the account.
School “dating page” deleted. A district staff member called about a “dating site” created on Instagram by students at a K-8 school, saying it was “a cyberbullying minefield.” The account was removed promptly.
Student’s account hacked, then deleted. A middle school administrator called saying a student’s Instagram account had been hacked, the content deleted, and the name changed, with her followers remaining. Instagram froze the account until it received information that would allow the student to reclaim it. When she sent her correct email address, Instagram found that she’d started a new one already and chose to stick with that one, so the hijacked account was deleted.
Harassing accounts deleted. A middle school administrator called about two accounts on Instagram that were harassing female students by insulting them and calling them names. He was concerned that the minute a page was taken down another would pop up, and a third one did. He shared the screen names, which we passed along to Instagram, and all three accounts were deleted.
Account soliciting students’ nude photos deleted. A high school student adviser called saying that a parent and his daughter had come to her office to show her the (faceless) nude photo of a female student that had been shared with her, claiming it was her. She insisted it wasn’t, and she and her father wanted the harassment to stop. It turned out that more than two dozen students at that school had been solicited by this Snapchat account via chat. We sent the screen name on the account to Snapchat and it was down within hours.
Account of a creepy harasser deleted. A middle school counselor contacted us saying a 7th grader reported being sexually harassed in the Musical.ly DIY music video app. The student was getting comments like “nice booty” and “sooo hot!” When she went to his profile to block the harasser, she found sexually explicit videos. The counselor tried to help her block the person and report it to the company via a menu option on the follower’s profile page but he was still on her feed. The counselor then gave us the screen names of both the student and the follower. With some research, we were able to find the app’s community manager and she quickly took the offending account down.
Harassing video deleted. A teacher at a private school Georgia contact us requesting help in getting deleted a YouTube video that harassed a student by using parts of a video she’d posted, insulting her and calling her names. The teacher also said that threats were being made against her in the comments below the video. YouTube quickly deleted the video after we flagged it with the context provided by the teacher.
Account soliciting nudes deleted. A middle school counselor called reporting that female students were receiving nude photos “from what appears to be a student at their school” who created a fake Instagram account. The student was using the account to solicit more nudes and threaten the girls with hacking their accounts (students need to know that this is the digital form of sexual harassment). Instagram quickly deleted the account.
High school drama contained. A middle school principal contacted us about a gossip account involving hateful speech about students in several high schools in his district. He was calling because the high schools’ principals were busy trying to “put out this fire” – what students were starting to refer to in tweets as “fight week” – so he was running support by sending us links and other evidence to report to Twitter (indicating how helpful teamwork among administrators and between administrators and students can be). A number of students wanted to help make this “drama” go away). When we got the original account deleted, a handful more were created to replace it, and when Twitter took those down, students reported new private ones that had gone up, all with similar names. Private direct messages (DMs) were also being shared publicly by students over Twitter. All the harassing accounts were deleted within the week. The case illustrates how hard it would be for services with hundreds of millions of users in multiple countries to take action against one school district’s problem without the “trusted reporter” role of a helpline cooperating with users and supporters seeking deletion. Even with copycat accounts popping up in real-time, as long as students (often student leaders) keep reporting them, problems like this get resolved.
If you’re curious about how the service worked, click here.