Virtual Communication (Mallory & Lynnsey Lecture)

Virtual Communication
By: Mallory Leggett &
Lynnsey Zimmerman
Virtual Communication
• Known as Computer-Mediated
Communication (CMC)
• “CMC is the use of networked computer
systems to communicate by transferring,
storing, and retrieving information” (Yilmaz,
2011, p. 115)
– Synchronous mode
– Asynchronous mode
Positives & Negatives
• As with almost anything, there are positives
and negatives to CMC
• Positives
– Relationship Development/Maintenance
– Online Dating
• Negatives
– Cyberstalking
– Cyberbullying
– Sexting
• Use of Facebook (Craig & Wright, 2012)
– Perceived similarity, social attraction,
self-disclosure, partner interdependence,
and predictability
• Xbox Live (Ledbetter & Kuznekoff, 2012)
– XBL relational maintenance behavior,
offline communication frequency, and
relational closeness
• Cross-Cultural Virtual Teams (Olaniran, 2004)
– Develop new team culture, ongoing
interaction, expectations of future interaction
and sensitivity to other cultures
• Student/Teacher Relationships (Sherblom, 2010)
– As supportive CMC relationships grow,
students feel more comfortable, become more
honest, and engage in more personal self
Online Dating
• In 1980s and 1990s, adults seeking third-party assistance,
crafted personal ads to put in the local newspaper.
• Today:
– 16 million adults in the U.S. have gone to a dating website
seeking for a romantic partner
– 7 million adults have gone on a date with someone through the
dating website.
• 3% of committed relationships originated in online dating
• Another 3% begin in online chat rooms (Nationwide survey in 2006)
– Do you think this is an accurate percentage? Higher or lower
Online Dating
Virtues to Online dating:
– Able to meet people from outside one’s geographical
location and day-to-day life
– Be able to meet your ideal partner (large sea out there)
– Those who are too shy, may be more confident in
CMC settings
– Scientific matching sites (e.g., eHarmony)– pare
people based on compatibility
– The CMC may allow people to get to know each other
on deeper levels of compatibility before meeting faceto-face
Sprecher, 2011
Online Dating
• Virtues continued
– The service is always available
– Finding others who are similar, even specialized,
– Obtain great deal of information about another person
before meeting or considering dating
– Can anybody think of any other positives to meeting
your partner online?
Sprecher, 2011
Online Dating
Online Dating
• Although we focus on the positive
side of online dating there also is a
dark side.
– What are some of the negatives or downfalls
to online dating?
– Do you think it is more dangerous for men or
– Do people misrepresent themselves?
Online Dating
• Negatives:
– Some show concern about their safety
– Concerned about having personal info on Internet
• Could lead to victimization
– Misrepresentation
• Are any misrepresentations acceptable?
– Some show concern for how meaningful the
relationship will be
• Do you think that an online relationship can be just as successful
as a traditional relationship?
• Would anybody consider
themselves a cyberstalker?
– Facebook Stalker?
• Has anybody ever had any experience
with any type of stalking?
• Definition
– “Cyber Stalking is very similar to traditional
stalking in that an individual enters a person’s
life and threatens and intimidates the person.
Cyberstalking is done using electronic means
such as chat rooms, e-mail, blogs, and other
forms of verbal online abuse.” (Andersen &
Greenbaum, 2010)
– Do you agree?
Facebook Stalking
• Facebook Stalking is defined as:
– “a covert method of investigation using It’s good for discovering a
wealth of information about people you don’t
actually know” (Urban Dictionary, 2009)
– “allows the stalker to secretly gather
information about the person they are
interested in.”
• Less likely to have an illegal component to it because if the person
didn’t want others to know about their life, they wouldn’t post it all
over the Internet.
Online Harassment
• Online harassment can take many forms, but
cyberstalking shares important characteristics with offline
– Online or off, motivated by a desire to control the victim
– Majority of cyberstalkers are men and the victims are women
– In many cases, the cyberstalker and the victim have had a prior
• Stalking begins when the relationship has ended
– Cyberstalkers can easily locate private information about a
potential victim
• Google
• Pay for information
Is cyberstalking less dangerous?
• Since cyberstalking does not involve physical contact, it
is misperceived as being less dangerous than physical
stalking. FALSE!
– Internet becomes a more integral part of out lives
every single day.
• Stalkers take this ease and anonymity of the Internet to
their advantage
• Making the fear more obvious and prosecution more
Cyberstalking less dangerous Cont.
• Internet provides new avenues to pursue their victims
• Just the push of a button
– Cyberstalking make be just the beginning to more
serious behavior including physical violence.
• Examples:
– Sending manipulative, threatening, or harrassing emails
– Hacking into a victim’s settings and passwords
– Creating false online accounts, impersonating the victim
– Posting the victims personal information on online discussion
groups etc.
– Signing the victim up for numerous online mailing lists and
Charged with cyberstalking
Cyberstalking Study
• Author of “It’s Complicated: Romantic breakups and their aftermath
on Facebook” concluded that:
– 88% of the respondents have stalked their exes through
– 70% admitted in using a mutual friends profile or logging in
as that mutual friend to see if their ex is sleeping around
– 74% stalked their exes new partner (or even rumored partner)
– 64% said they re-read or analyzed old messages from their ex
– 52% said they were jealous of a picture their ex posted
– 50% deleted pictures of their ex on their profile
– 48% remain friends with their ex
– 33% have posted a song lyric or quote about their ex
– 31% post pictures to make their ex jealous
Lucas, 2012
• “using Internet or mobile phones to harass,
insult, or discredit other people online” (Fawzi &
Goodwin, 2011, p. 2)
• “willful and repeated harm inflicted towards
another. What makes cyber bullying distinct is
the use of electronic communication
technology as the means through which to
threaten, harass, embarrass, or socially
exclude” (Mishna, Saini, & Solomon, 2009, p. 1222)
• “Evidence of cyberbullying manifests through
unconventional methodologies (e.g., text
messaging, social Web sites), and as a result,
can deteriorate an individual’s sense of self,
and hinders relationships with his or her peers”
(Wong-Lo & Bullock, 2011, p. 64)
• “Cyber bullying involves the use of ICT
[information and communication technologies]
to intimidate, harass, victimize, or bully an
individual or a group of individuals” (Bhat, 2008, p. 54)
• Uniquely dangerous because of the farreaching capabilities of Internet
• It is unclear whether there has actually
been a measurable increase in the amount
of bullying in our society, or if the advents
of new technology just make it more
visible or traceable
• Role of online records
The Case of Megan Meier (2006)
• First federal cyberbullying case to be
brought to trial under the Federal
Computer Fraud and Abuse Act
• Lori Drew (mom) creates fake MySpace
profile of Josh Evans to flirt with Megan
• “Josh” tells Megan the world would be
better off without her causing
Megan to hang herself
Cyberbully Legislature
• As of July, 2010, five states have adopted
legislation against cyberbullying specifically, and
thirty have adopted legislation prohibiting
electronic harassment
• The Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act
• Student Internet Safety Act
• SAFE Internet Act
• “refers to sending, receiving or forwarding
sexually suggestive messages or nude
photos via the mobile phone” (Wei, 2011, p. 3)
• Three types (Wei, 2011, p. 2)
– Consensual sexting between two people
in a romantic relationship
– Mass circulated sexting
– Sexting posted on the Web
The story of 13-year-old
Anderson, W., & Greenbaum, D. (2010). Cyberstalking (cyber bullying): Proof and
punishment. Insights to a Changing World Journal. 18-28
Bhat, C. (2008). Cyber bullying: Overview and strategies for school counsellors, guidance
officers, and all school personnel. Australian Journal of Guidance & Counselling, 18, 53-66.
Craig, E., & Wright, K. B. (2012). Computer-mediated relational development and
maintenance on Facebook. Communication Research Reports, 29, 119-129.
Cupach, W.R. & Spitzberg, B.H. (2011). The darkside of close relationships II. Routledge.
New York, NY. 119-136.
Fawzi, N. & Goodwin, B. (2011). Witnesses of the offense: What influences the behavior of
bystanders of cyberbullying?. (2011). Conference Papers -- International Communication
Association, 1-34.
Houser, M. L., Fleuriet, C., & Estrada, D. (2012). The cyber factor: An analysis of relational
maintenance through the use of computer-mediated communication. Communication Research
Reports, 29, 34-43.
Ledbetter, A. M., & Kuznekoff, J. H. (2012). More than a game: Friendship relational
maintenance and attitudes toward Xbox LIVE communication. Communication Research, 39,
Meredith, J. P. (2010). Combating cyberbullying: Emphasizing education over
criminalization. Federal Communications Law Journal, 63, 311-340.
Mishna, F., Saini, M., & Solomon, S. (n.d). Ongoing and online: Children and youth's
perceptions of cyber bullying. Children and Youth Services Review, 31, 1222-1228.
Olaniran, B. (2004). Computer-mediated communication in cross-cultural virtual
teams. International & Intercultural Communication Annual, 27, 142-166.
Are you being stalked? (2012). Privacy Rights Clearinghouse: Empowering.
Sherblom, J. C. (2010). The computer-mediated communication (CMC) classroom: a
challenge of medium, presence, interaction, identity, and relationship. Communication
Education, 59, 497-523.
Wei, R., (2011). Third-person effects, gender, and sexting: Effects of media channels
on perceived influences of sexting among adolescents" Paper presented at the annual
meeting of the International Communication Association, TBA, Boston,
MA Online <PDF>. 2012-06-18 from
Wong-Lo, M. M. (2011). Digital Aggression: Cyberworld meets school
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Yilmaz, Y. (2011). Task effects on focus on form in synchronous computer-mediated
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