Cyberbullying and real-time cell phone video broadcasting


Qik – a new software application which can be downloaded onto your phone – allows for real-time web streaming of whatever you’d like to capture.  This means that anyone else can see exactly what you see as it is happening.  The software is being ported for different platforms and will soon be available for the iPhone.  I think that it’s a neat tool that can be used to get people to a certain location to promote a grassroots movement or to simply see something fascinating or unique.

I’m sure there will be future functionality to alert individuals when their peers are currently posting a new stream so that they can tune in.  With an increasing number of web-enabled cell phones, they won’t need to run to the nearest desktop or laptop machine – they can just connect to the Internet and watch the stream on their handheld device and then make a decision if they want to go personally check it out.  Furthermore, with optics continuing to improve and flash media capacities and data speeds continuing to increase on cell phones, we will soon have clear, non-jittery streams to watch.

As with any new communications technology, though, the potential for abuse is rife.  For example, an unsuspecting student can be tricked into saying or doing something he wouldn’t normally do while his behavior is video recorded and broadcasted to distant peers tuning in.  Though a stretch, blackmail and extortion can also happen in this setting, with a kid being bullied into compliance under the threat of being “outed” or publicly humiliated through this real-time video streaming.  Gang violence or riots can also be mobilized as the beginnings of fistfights or looting can be broadcasted to summon friends to come and participate.  These are just a few examples; I’m sure there are more.


  1. This new technology could also have an interesting effect.

    Think of it this way. Assuming parents assume their roles, kids may be held more accountable for their behavior whether it be bullying or breaking rules. Will this wave of personal, hand-held technology force our future generations to be held to higher standards because they are not able to be out of the “limelight?” Neighbors, friends, family, and parents will have that “little birdie” they once told us about lurking around every corner. Does this type of technology need to be applied to our right to privacy? Do juveniles’ rights to privacy extend that far? This will all lead to more questions and more debates…. Great blog topic.

  2. Wow…

    This is the side of technology that scares me. If you've not seen the latest installment of the Batman series of movies, one of the technological marvels Batman uses to track his enemies is actually a giant network of all of Gotham City's cell phones, transmitting ultra-sonic signals that create an image of the entire city. Yes, this is movie magic, and the method they propose to create an image is complete fiction, but it does open a can of ethical worms that mirrors those that are a potential with the above-described technology. Now couple it with the built-in GPS capabilities on most modern cell phones. It boggles the mind.

    Keep up the discussion, though. As Luke points out, this is a fantastic blog topic.

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