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Md. Launches Pilot Program Against Cyberbullying

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PatWarrenWebPhoto Pat Warren
Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland becomes the first state in the country to team up with Facebook in the fight against cyberbullying.

Pat Warren reports the pilot project allows schools to intervene on students’ Facebook pages.

Facebook has agreed to take a look at postings that may constitute bullying, and in some cases, take them down. But only in Maryland.

Anti-social behavior–the social media upgrade of sticks and stones is that words can definitely hurt you.

“It’s not OK. It’s not OK, it can really hurt someone. You don’t know what they’re going through. It can destroy their world,” friends of bullied teen Grace McComas said at a House hearing in March.

These students speak on behalf of their friend, Grace McComas, who committed suicide after being bullied in social media. Now, Maryland schools and Facebook have entered a pilot program initiated by Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler to stop cyberbullying.

“If the child and the teacher feels that there’s cyberbullying going on, they then report it to Facebook and Facebook makes the ultimate decision and that language will be taken off,” Gansler said.

Anne Arundel County schools is among the participants in this social media project.

“What you want to do is make sure that parties feel safe and secure in that environment,” said Susan Love, Anne Arundel County schools.

Gansler says it’s not always easy to determine what constitutes bullying.

“You can imagine, ‘Jane, I saw that you took that cupcake today.’ Now that might offend Jane, but it may not constitute cyberbullying for other people,” said Gansler. “‘Jane, you ate that cupcake today and that’s why you’re so fat and disgusting and nobody ever talks to you.’”

“She then talks to the school, they would agree and then Facebook would agree and that language would be taken off,” he continued.

The new channel went online Thursday morning.

The agreement with Facebook covers all Maryland public schools.

Grace’s Law, which makes cyberbullying of a minor a misdemeanor, took effect Oct. 1.

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