The Internet gives a sense of anonymity that many people abuse. Cyberbullying is by no means a new phenomenon, having taken place in social media circles and message boards for years, but has now spread to sites devoted to critical reviews and input. The book-publishing and reviewing service GoodReads.com has recently experienced controversy over its review system when a wave of Cyberbullying On GoodReads and trolling left many writers and publicists feeling abused by the system. The site’s review protocol lacks enough moderators and oversight to combat all bullying, meaning that a review can be subject to extreme abuse and even threats.
Cyberbullying On GoodReads And Review Sites
Being able to sign up for any website using nothing more than an email address makes many review sites major faucets for bullying. High-profile websites like Amazon allow any person to create reviews of products without any moderation features, so the site has a popular trend of users creating spoof accounts to post bogus reviews that feature libel and abuse. Even moderated sites that allow for user input, such as Wikipedia, can be flooded with abuse to the point where it is necessary to freeze or even shut down a page in order to prevent cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying On GoodReads and Publication Pages
Many websites exist that allow an individual to publish their creative works, whether it is literary or artistic; sites like DeviantArt.com allow users to upload drawings, paintings, and even pictures of sculptures to be critiqued or shared. GoodReads.com allows users to upload everything from a few lines of poetry to a complete novel and boasts twenty million visitors, making them one of the most-visited publication enterprises on the entire Internet. Professional and amateur authors alike make use of this site in order to list new and upcoming works or to get feedback.
The Feedback System
Where cyberbullying becomes prevalent on GoodReads.com is in the comments section, where anyone and everyone is capable of giving their two cents on the published material. For the vast majority of GoodReads users, the comments section can be a productive means of getting constructive criticism of their work, but a small slice of bullies and Internet trolls have turned it into a free-for-all of abuse and even threats. Since it is possible for anyone to sign up for the comments section, there are no restrictions on who may post or what may be posted, even though moderators delete negative comments and trolling attempts.
Cyberbullying On GoodReads: Bullying — And More
Some bullies on GoodReads are one-and-done attackers, who simply sign on in order to deflate an author’s hopes with a scathing review. Others are roaming bands of bullies, who down-vote a published work and then offer severe criticism, if not outright libel, of an author’s skillsets. Trolling is one thing, however, but the problem goes beyond basic negative reviews, to the point where bullies make personal attacks and even threats against the authors themselves. Some bullies go so far as to threaten authors with assault, rape, or death, making it a criminal matter.
Counter-Bullying on GoodReads
Though GoodReads employs a moderating force, no amount of moderators can cover all of the posts made on the hundreds of thousands of published materials. Worse still, suggestions that the moderators are part of the bullying team make it even harder to cut down on the amount of abuse. Some authors and posters are trying to make a stand against the threat of bullying and abuse. A website titled StopTheGRBullies.com attempts to post the information about the individuals who make abusive claims in order to make them a target for moderators and the community. In addition, the site tries to link duplicate accounts in order to bring the ban down on those who create new accounts to continue bullying.
Cyberbullying On GoodReads: Internal Reform
The official GoodReads reaction to cyberbullying is that they refuse to set up any censorship on their site, designating it as a place where anyone may speak their mind, regardless of the content. As such, their moderation team will continue to attempt to shut down the individual bullying attempts, but there will be no sweeping reforms in order to counteract the abuse that happens whenever particular posters try to make an author feel degraded by writing a negative or scathing review.