What Is Flaming on the Internet?
Flaming is a form of cyberbullying that involves repeatedly posting insulting and intimidating language at another user in an online forum. Social media, chatrooms, YouTube, gaming rooms, or any online platform where users can share content are common places for flaming cyberbullying. Flames are often personal and intended to cause a recipient to feel shame and humiliation. Social Media Victims Law Center is committed to holding companies legally accountable for the detrimental effects of cyberbullying.
Home used to be free from schoolyard bullies, but what happens when the bully follows your child home by way of the electronic devices they use? Nearly 60 percent of teens in the United States report being bullied or harassed online. Cyberbullying can occur over any form of electronic communication, including cell phones, computers, and tablets. It may happen anywhere that people are able to view, comment on, or share content, including:
- Text messaging or messaging apps
- Social media
- Chatrooms, online forums, or message boards
- Gaming platforms
What Is Flaming?
Flaming, also known as roasting, is a type of cyberbullying that can harm your kids’ mental health due to the personal and humiliating nature of the comments made. It can include aggressive or lewd language that is meant to be insulting, personal attacks, sharing private information with the intention of embarrassing the victim, or spreading rumors online.
It’s important to recognize the signs that your son or daughter is experiencing flaming or other forms of cyberbullying, understand when to intervene, and know when it’s time to involve law enforcement. If you or your child has experienced flaming, Social Media Victims Law Center can help you find accountability for the perpetrators.
What Is a Flame War?
A flame war is an intense argument that takes place over electronic communication devices. It involves multiple exchanges of angry or abusive messages between users. The anonymous nature of the Internet allows flamers to act more aggressively than they might in person because there is less accountability to their victims. Comments are meant to intimidate, insult, or embarrass the other party.
Some common signs of a flame war include:
- The use of all caps and pictures or emojis to make a point
- Targeting personal details of a person’s life, such as race, gender, sexuality, economic status, or appearance, regardless of whether those things are relevant to the topic
- The use of profanity or offensive language
- The use of social media jargon or slang to avoid attracting the attention of adults
How Does Flaming Start?
Flame wars often start with flame bait, which is content that is posted for the express purpose of provoking anger and inciting a flame war. The person who posts the flame bait may not even be part of the flame war but views the resulting argument as a form of entertainment.
Examples of Flaming and Flame Wars
From gaming systems to technology to politics, everyone has an opinion, and when those opinions go head-to-head online, things can get ugly. Here are some well-known flame wars from recent history:
- Mac vs. PC: The war between Mac lovers and PC loyalists is still raging.
- The Console War: Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo, among others, have had gamers duking it out over the years, with insults sometimes turning personal.
- The notorious flame war between millionaire Joe Rogen and a 20-year-old named Kevin.
What Effect Do Flaming and Flame Wars Have on Victims?
While adults may be adept at laughing off personal insults from strangers on the Internet, children and teenagers can internalize the hurtful words, regardless of whether they come from a stranger or someone they go to school with. Cyberbullying causes anxiety and depression and has even led to suicide.
Victims may not tell anyone they are being flamed online out of fear of retribution or embarrassment. Some signs that your child may be experiencing flaming or other forms of cyberbullying include:
- Isolating from friends and family
- Declining grades
- A refusal to attend school
- Signs of depression and anxiety
- Real or imagined illnesses that keep them out of school
- Avoidance of electronics
- Thought of suicide
Young people who are being bullied online often show signs of sadness, frustration, anger, and humiliation.
How Do You Stop Flaming and Flame Wars?
Cyberbullies typically engage in flaming behavior for entertainment or out of a desire to belong. Flamers are trying to attract attention and get a reaction from the target of their comments and other bystanders in the conversation. In some cases, they may like the power they feel when they control the conversation in the online communities where they post. Here are some common signs that your child may be engaging in flaming or other cyberbullying activities:
- Avoiding conversations about their social media use
- Owning multiple accounts on the same platform
- Suddenly changing screens when an adult is nearby
- Becoming uncharacteristically angry or irritable when they can’t access electronics
Left unaddressed, flaming can be dangerous and have serious consequences. It’s up to adults to intervene when minors are involved. At the beginning stages of a flame war, you may be able to simply leave the conversation or block the offending party or parties. However, once multiple individuals have become involved, it’s often more difficult to end a flame war.
What Are the Signs That Flaming Has Reached a Dangerous Level?
It’s not uncommon for flaming to cross the line from mean-spirited to unlawful or criminal. Once that happens, you need to seek the assistance of law enforcement for help. The decision on whether or not to call the police will depend on the type of threats you’re dealing with, how often they are happening, the source, and the nature of the threats.
Type of Threats
Posts involving threats of violence, bodily harm, or death, or those that include pornographic images of children or sexually explicit language or pictures, should be reported to law enforcement right away. Lewd language or personal insults directed at a child may also warrant a police report.
Frequency of Threats
If flaming by the same person is repeatedly happening, the frequency is increasing, or if they are following your child from online platform to platform to flame them, it’s time to involve the police.
Source of Threats
Flamers known to a child or teenager in real life can be just as much of a threat as a stranger since they have access to personal information, including the school your child attends, their address, personal habits, and more. If your child doesn’t know the source of these comments, police may be able to investigate the IP address where the messages are originating and intervene on your behalf.
You should also report flaming to law enforcement if other parties have started to join in or if the messages your child is receiving appear to be from several different sources.
Nature of Threats
Posts related to stalking behavior or hate crimes should be reported to the authorities immediately. Additionally, if a flamer begins to share personal identifying information online about your child that could put them at risk, police need to know.
When Should You Contact an Attorney About Flaming on the Internet?
Many cases of cyberbullying can be traced back to lax consumer safety standards by social media companies. Social Media Victims Law Center is on a mission to make companies liable for the harm that has come to vulnerable victims. We are here to answer your questions about flaming and cyberbullying, listen to your experiences, and help you determine whether you have a case. Contact our team of social media addiction attorneys today for a free case evaluation.
Frequently Asked Questions
For individuals and children who have been
We only handle cases on a contingent fee basis. This means that we are paid a portion of any recovery obtained in the case and you do not owe us any attorneys’ fees if the lawsuit does not result in a recovery.
Every case is unique. Our attorneys will work with your family to evaluate your potential case and help you evaluate whether filing a lawsuit or other legal proceeding is in your family’s best interest. Generally speaking, the types of cases we handle involve serious mental health effects, including attempted or completed suicide, eating disorders, inpatient mental health treatment, or sexual trafficking/exploitation that was caused by or contributed to through addictive or problematic social media use by teens and young adults.
We are a law firm based near Seattle, WA comprised of lawyers who have spent their entire careers representing victims who have been harmed by dangerous products. We are also parents. Shocked and troubled by the recent revelations about the harm caused to teens and young adults by social media platforms, which powerful technology companies have designed to be highly addictive, Social Media Victims Law Center was launched specifically to help families and children who have suffered serious mental harm or exploitation through social media use to obtain justice.
Matthew P. Bergman
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