What is positive internet behaviour and why is it important?
As digital citizens of a highly-connected world, we have the responsibility to use the internet in a safe, smart and kind way. The internet is a double-edged sword that presents both opportunities and risks to all. When we use the internet positively, we act responsibly and ethically and inspire others to do the same. Collective positivity helps everyone enjoy the benefits of a digital world.
Everything that we do or say online has real-life impact on, not just ourselves, but entire communities, leading to either positive or negative consequences on issues such as personal privacy and the spread of false information online. If we all choose to act sensibly, kindly and with respect for others, the internet will be a more pleasant place for community building, sharing of knowledge and global collaboration.
During this COVID-19 pandemic, everyone will face their own difficulties, be it at work or at home. Tempers are short, emotions are high, patience levels are low. With more people consuming content online during this period, having positive internet behavior will go a long way to help prevent an already tense situation from boiling over.
What are some ways we can use the internet positively?
- Post positively: We often come across mean and nasty comments online. While it’s common to have a different opinion from someone else, there’s never a need to be disrespectful or insulting. Constructive discourse should take place in a civil and respectful way. Always remember that just like you, the person you’re addressing online has feelings and emotions, even if you’re separated by a screen. Sometimes, we may feel compelled to “rant” online after negative experiences. Take some time to collect ourselves and don’t post immediately, where possible. Try framing your posts constructively or posting more positive reviews to share useful recommendations with others, rather than only posting complaints expressing your frustrations.
- Stand up to negativity: If you witness someone being bullied or harassed online, stand up for them by reporting the offending posts to the hosting sites. The same goes for online content that is likely to be harmful to others — such as violent, dangerous or self-harming content, hate speech and false information. Most sites allow you to report posts if they’re inappropriate, fraudulent, or hateful. Simply by reporting negative content, you’re helping to create a more positive Internet environment for all.
- Respect the privacy of others: How would you feel if your personal details, such as your name, address, email and phone number were published online for the world to see? Doxxing occurs when an individual or entity publishes the personal information of a person or people related to him/her, in order to harass, threaten or facilitate violence against them. This is a malicious practice that qualifies as an offence under Singapore’s Protection Against Harassment Act. Doxxing is never a justifiable course of action to take.
- Exercise empathy: Think about how you would like to be treated by others. Show graciousness and kindness to the people sharing the internet community with you — everyone can benefit from more positivity.
- Don’t publicly shame others: Have you ever uploaded a video of “bad behaviour” or reposted a mean comment to criticise someone? As social media allows for rapid sharing and commenting, it’s now easier than ever for users to track individuals online and “punish” them for what is perceived as an insensitive remark or bad behaviour. Without context or background, netizens can jump to conclusions, condemning the individual hastily. In many of these cases, the accused person receives death threats, abusive rants and may even have his/her private information exposed for the world to see. This can lead to humiliation and harassment for the person’s supposed wrongdoing. There have also been cases of mistaken identity and misunderstanding, where an innocent person is wrongfully shamed by users on the internet. If you have a personal grievance, take the disagreement offline and work it out privately. Taking matters into your own hands with public shaming often creates a cycle of negativity.
- Think before you share: Before you click forward on that photo or link you receive, it’s always best to think twice. Unverified content on offers and deals could turn out to be hoaxes or phishing scams, while humiliating content about others could spread negativity and hurt real people. Learn more in our Responsible Sharing Tipsheet.
- Don’t be a thief: If you wouldn’t steal something from another person in real life, you should apply the same principle online. Let’s respect the intellectual property rights of others by not stealing or damaging their digital work, identity or property. Always ask for permission before using someone else’s content and remember to credit them after permission is given.
How can you help others to embrace positive internet use?
- Lead by example: A better internet starts with you. We are often influenced by the behaviour of our friends and loved ones. If you adopt positive internet etiquette, you can inspire those around you to do the same.
- Point out negative behaviour: If you witness your friends or family members engaging in negative behaviour, don’t be a bystander. Point it out and suggest alternative ways for them to approach the situation.
- Share resources: If you’ve read or learned something useful online, verify the reliability of the information before you share it with friends and family. To learn more about building a positive internet, visit betterinternet.sg for more resources.
Think Before You Post
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