At the initiative of President Isaac Herzog, and in cooperation with META Israel (aka Facebook), a new campaign aimed at stopping bullying on social media will be launched on Tuesday, December 7.
The campaign, which stemmed from Herzog’s concern over the extraordinary degree of such bullying, is backed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked; Knesset members Miri Regev, Miki Zohar and Moshe Arbel; soccer star Maor Buzaglo; entertainers Ana Zak, Reef Neeman, Aki Avni, Bell Agam, Karin Alia, Omer Hazan and Liel Eli; judoka Peter Paltchik, publicist Israel Cohen and other well-known figures.
Nearly all of the above will appear in video clips urging people surfing the net to think hard about how to change the discourse, and will share some of the most hurtful posts that they received on social media, with vulgar and overly aggressive words censored, and replaced by more positive expressions.
The aim of the project is to get people to think twice before they send posts which are grossly insulting, which can damage a person’s reputation or which can cause severe psychological harm.
A verbal assault can sometimes be much more painful than a physical assault. One of the main thrusts of the campaign will be to get the general public to understand that words can hurt, and that there are other means of sending a message of disagreement or disapproval.
The project is geared to fostering greater awareness of the power of words. Herzog is bothered by the fact that too many people allow their fingers to skip too lightly on the keyboard without taking the possible consequences into account.
The worst offenders are political and religious extremists, but others are almost as bad, and the impact bodes ill not only for the individual victim of vitriol, but also for society as a whole.
The campaign is directed at both adults and youth.
Some young victims have been so psychologically and emotionally scarred by online bullying that they have committed or attempted to commit suicide.
This is one of the great dangers of social media, which is why so many people have joined the campaign. It goes beyond promoting civilized discourse: It can also save lives.