Social Media have changed the way we work, study and how we communicate with each other. For those living abroad, social media help to keep in contact with family and friends without extra costs. However, social media also create new places for crimes and harassment. How is Sweden controlling this?
Social Media and its dangers
Sweden is a digitally connected country. 83% of people in the country use social media. Despite the huge benefits of social media, they also create new areas for harassment such as mean comments, threats, the share of personal information or the divulgation of fake information.
In many cases, the regulations for these crimes are weak. Social media usually delegate on users the report of harassment, which leads many users not to feel supported enough to report their experiences. Besides, the limit between freedom of expression and crime is not always clear.
The legal situation in Sweden
Sweden reached 91% on the list of overall awareness of cyberbullying developed in 2018, sharing the first position with Italy. Although only a few of the cyberbullying cases reported arrive at Court, Sweden protects people from these type of crimes.
The regulation in Sweden establishes that: “everything considered illegal offline it is also considered illegal online” preventing the creation of a legal gap between online and offline crimes.
How can I get information?
To provide information and support to people, The Swedish Agency for Youth and Civil Society (MUCF) and the foundation Make Equal have developed Näthatshjälpen (in English The Cyber Hate Assistant). This website provides information about the different types of hate crimes and cyberbullying. Besides, it also informs about regulations, how to report a case or how to delete social media accounts.
The website can also help people to directly report a case of online harassment to the police.
Besides, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) includes information about online harassment in their annual report. This shows the concern Sweden has about these crimes.
Despite this, the numbers are not really positive. 26,4% of the population (aged 16-84) has been a victim of online harassment. Especially important is the fact that the highest percentage of victims are people between 16 and 19 years old. Regarding the type of attacks, the majority are based on xenophobia or racism, showing a worrying reality.
What should I do?
If you experience any type of online harassment, you should first report it to the social media platform you are using. Right after, it is fundamental to report it to the police as well. This will make authorities to be able to help you with the situation.
Additionally, you need to remember that social media are great but, sometimes, also dangerous. Try to be always concerned about what you decide to share and with whom!