Cyber-Safety in an Era of the Expanding Presence of Social Media

Cyber-safety is essential. With online safety, there are more and more videos and photos being used to communicate essential information, rather than written statements or writings.

Here are a few questions to start us off:

1. What sorts of problems are we seeing with video content and are those difficulties being solved to communicate effectively and safely?

2. Are admin departments more responsive to cyber problems at work or school, compared to say a few years ago?

3. With the ALS ice bucket challenge, they have raised a great deal of money, in part - because of the video phenomenon - those quick videos reached a great number of people. As a method of communication - are video and social media as safe as they are popular?


With a look back to the old mobile consoles. The 1980’s.

Moderator Bio:

Krista Jessacher raises awareness about increasing privacy in this digital age. She has a legal background of about 15 years, including a law degree. Having worked at the courthouse for about five years as a court clerk and D/D Registrar, and as a lawyer, she is experienced in dealing with upset people. She worked with witnesses, Judges, lawyers, and self-represented people to facilitate the court process. While working as a lawyer she worked to settle client matters. She worked at two mid-sized law firms in Vancouver and also had her own law firm as a sole practitioner. She is currently a Board Member of a non-profit organization devoted to conflict resolution and teens.


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Dear Subscribers,

3) As a method of communication - are video and social media as safe as they are popular?

In reply to question 3 video and social media can be indeed be popular and are likely to continue to be in wide use. Safety issues may arise if due regard is not given to participants’, for example, dignity and well-being. Furthermore, respect for the inherent dignity and privacy of persons are key human rights principles (European Convention on Human Rights, Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Punishment). Human rights are diverse and may range from the rights of privacy to safety. Perhaps international instruments, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are useful in understanding the current way in which services such as communication based-ones respond to human rights linked to cyber-safety. Safety issues can have a bearing upon human rights. Perhaps effort should be made to ensure that communications including video and social media are consistent with principles in human rights. What do others think?

Yours sincerely,

Jen Geary, Dr., LLB., MDE

A wonderful start to this discussion.  Thank you! 

Welcome to Cyberweek 2014!





Krista Grace Jessacher said:

A wonderful start to this discussion.  Thank you! 

Welcome to Cyberweek 2014!



Hi Krista - I note from your biography that you "...are experienced in dealing with upset people." What have you found that works with such people? 

Yours sincerely,

Jen Geary, Dr., LLB., MDE



Anytime we begin showing a party's face and other easy identifiers, that raises a whole different liability. That is something that we worry about too. We at resolved it by allowing the option of parties to embody digital characters which allow total freedom of face expressions and emotions in real time through using webcams!

Dr. Geary, your discussion of dignity and well-being is central to the use of videos and photos.  Your phrasing was “if due regard is not given to participants”.

When looking at issues in school and work, a human rights approach is effective.  There was a situation in a school where a student was tormenting a teacher’s aide and that went before a Human Rights Tribunal.  It was found that the employer was responsible for not taking the situation seriously enough and not taking steps to end the cyber conduct.  The teacher’s aide received a small stipend, but that was minor compared to relief at having the student’s cyber conduct end and the offensive behaviour responded to by those in authority (employer).

I would like to see more student/employee suspensions from school/work for cyber conduct e.g. towards other students and teachers/staff in their school district.  A formal suspension may be an immediate cure for some of the problem behaviours of students and employees. 

There seems to be a disregard for the dignity and well-being that you highlighted.  Good simple policies at school and work should be able to effectively address most cyber conduct.  From the outdated policies that I have seen - they are too convoluted to make much sense. 

One of the other problems I’m seeing is an organized, group approach to problem cyber conduct.  If we would like a safe online community platform, then we have to raise our standards online as to what is acceptable behaviour, including group behaviour.  I myself have asked people to “take down” photos posted online with a note that others would find the photo offensive. 

Looking at the topic of dispute resolution and videos/photos, there is a person on the other end of the virtual discussion. 

Online dispute resolution should be safe, and reaffirm the dignity and well-being of the participants in the process.  A process that often may involved photos and videos. 


Dear Subscribers,

Krista - I found your discussion to be of interest. For example, you stated “I myself have asked people to “take down” photos posted online with a note that others would find the photo offensive.” There seems to be an important right and that is to be forgotten . Online Dispute Resolution can perhaps be transportable to a broad range of environments including work place, correctional and educational ones. Fry (1988) defines privacy as “... an absence of environmental irritants, including crowding” (p. 176). A lack of privacy can have a detrimental impact on Online Dispute Resolution and parties coping capacities and relationships with others.

Human rights instruments, such as, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms 1982 (C) could be societal codes that are intended to safeguard the liberties and freedoms of all citizens including prisoners. Prisoners have rights to be treated with regard for their personhood (Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, 1990, ss 1-2). There are, of course, competing rights including those that are linked to individual and community liberties. There are also tensions between the rights of the community to be protected and the rights of the individual including a student (HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, 2004; Vess, 2010). Human rights are often linked to dignity, privacy, education and equality (Manitoba Law Reform Commission, 1999; Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002). These instruments provide a useful lens through which to view the current way in which services including those linked to Online Dispute Resolution respond to the needs of individuals and groups.

Professionals including in the area of Online Dispute Resolution and corrections are responsible not to act in an arbitrary manner and to respect the autonomy of others (Human Rights Watch, 2012). Thus, at all times the public including children, families, professionals, prisoners and others should be treated with respect for their personhood (Human Rights Watch, 2012; United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009). There are, however, no absolute rights other than perhaps freedom from enslavement. Perhaps at center focus in Online Dispute Resolution should be respect for the inherent dignity and privacy of persons, as well as broad principles linked to duty of care including in correctional, educational and other environments (Allison, 2012).

Yours sincerely,

Jen Geary, Dr., LLB., MDE


Thanks for leading us into engaging on these very important topics with this discussion forum, Krista.  In response to the points about helping to create standards for engagement, the point is well-taken from Jen about international human rights.  What ideas do people have for those who live in countries who have not signed up for these international standards or for how to enforce them when the cases are unlikely to see court or tribunals due to cost or significant disenfranchisement of parties?  What mechanisms for encouraging high standards without the need for enforcement are possible or what methods of enforcement are realistic in the digital environment?

Great discussion - thank you! 

I agree with Jen that it is time to discuss more frequently the concept of "duty of care" with the digital world.  Too often privacy and dignity of person are disregarded in social media and in video/photos.  Thank you Jen for raising this important topic. 

Leah -  the topic of enforcing standards for communities of disenfranchised persons - I would encourage cooperation of the digital service providers.  They can create a digital record sheet, similar to a driving record for drivers.  There may be more options if the digital service providers are made aware of the problems, since they would like their clients safe as well.




There has been several intriguing issues raised within this forum. In particular, I do also believe it is time to establish a "duty of care" within the digital world. It is true that an individual's privacy is all too often discounted. It is necessary to start a discussion about the inherent dignity and privacy of persons. There can no longer be an attitude that whoever uses technology freely is subject to the public disclosure of such information.  However, I think, there is also a certain level of personal responsibility that must be accepted while engaging in online communication and social media because there is such a significant privacy risk.

As mentioned above, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an extremely successful fundraiser. Although, I do not think the fundraiser was as safe as it was successful. As I was logging into social media on a daily basis during the challenge, I noticed that several people took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge either in their own homes or right outside of them. While the videos that were filmed inside of the home, for example in a bathroom tub, were not revealing of a person’s residence, the videos taken outside of the home were indicative of location. It is concerning to me that it was easy to see the outside of homes in some of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos because several people on social media do have a location listed on their profile in addition to these videos. Thus, the combination of the videos revealing location, as well as a city or perhaps even address listed on social media, makes it is much easier to track people down.  Consequently, an individual’s safety it at risk. Moreover, with such a risk, there is a certain level of personal responsibility that must be accepted. At the same time, it is time for discussions regarding a duty of care in the technological world. It is evident how the public views this duty of care when “scandals” occur with celebrities whose iCloud is leaked, for example. Instead of blaming the intruder, the blame is shifted to the celebrity who had his or her personal information hacked. This is a viewpoint that must change.  


I disagree with peoples privacy being disregarded in terms of the ice bucket challenge. This was a fantastic fundraiser that people loved. When I first saw it posted online I wondered why someone would post this online. Initially, I agreed with most of the comments and concerns for privacy that others on this forum hold. But after further analysis I think the reason the ice bucket challenge was so successful is that it stroked the participants ego. People were able to show off how much they cared. Thereby making the fundraiser about ALS they made it about themselves. I think that is why it became so popular. The challenge had the perfect balance of bringing attention to a disease but it became legendary because it allowed the participants the ability to show off how much they care. The point of raising awareness and money became secondary. It became all about "me".
With the preponderance of people on all forms of social media the notion of privacy becomes almost nonexistent. The idea of future ramifications of sharing too much online isn't even considered by most people. It becomes normal to know everything about your online "friends". As this becomes normal the notion of privacy takes a backseat. I wish it weren't this way. I wish people would protect their privacy but with things like the ice bucket challenge and the apparent consent for the NSA to save every email, text message, phone call log, and survelience cameras everywhere I think that the issue of privacy online is one that has already been lost if people share everything they do and say online.

Dear Subscribers,

Variations in opinions and insights can be a “spice of life” and over time enliven dialogue. There may be situations where privacy rights are not recognized or realized. This being said, according to Lim (2007, 2nd ed) in “Cyberspace Law Commentaries and Materials” ”Where the Constitution has been held to contain positive privacy rights, it has always been against a state or Federal Government. This can be directly linked to the history of the American psyche, which has always included a mistrust of [big government}” (p. 168). If damage is done to parties’ privacy interests and they can afford legal remedies they may make informed decisions to take action, for example, under tort law. Through tort law there is recognition that invasion of privacy or of publicity privacy can occur (Linden & Klar,  1999, 11 th ed, “Canadian Tort Law, Cases Notes& Materials” ). Privacy rights might also be indirectly protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Linden and Klar (1999) write, “Section 7 guarantees the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure, may also indirectly promote the right to privacy….” (p. 93).  In the area of business law there may be Safe Harbor Frameworks to consider. Please see for more information about these Frameworks. These matters could serve as incentives for diverse interests ranging from independent practitioners to governments who are involved with, for example, Online Dispute Resolution to safeguard and develop privacy and data protections rights.


Yours sincerely,

Jen Geary, Dr., LLB, MDE.

Robert - You bring up a good point. Perhaps the answer in how to make the Internet safer is not simply trying to add more security measures. The Internet can never be made 100% secure. All users are subject to at least some risk. However, many people post personal information with what seems to be little thought. Along with the addition of further security measures, more should be done (I'm not sure by whom) to educate people about the shortcomings and risks inherent in interacting online. Once people become more aware of the potential dangers, they can then begin to better weigh the costs and benefits, and thereby make an informed decision about the extent to which they want to expose themselves to that risk.


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