Taylor's FSLM Journals
Communicating insults in cyberbullying

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

*Tan Kim Hua, Shahidatul Maslina Mat So’od & Bahiyah Abdul Hamid


Cyberbullying is basically bullying on electronic or social media. This form of bullying is often overlooked and yet it can be just as damaging as face-to-face bullying. This paper reports on a study of provocative insults used in online bullying among Malaysian youths. Important key words or phrases used by tertiary-level Malaysian students who have experienced cyberbullying, have bullied others or are merely bystanders in social media platforms are elicited. Data collection and analysis are conducted in two phases. The first involves a survey using the BuLI (Bashing using the Language of the Internet) questionnaire, and the second involves analysing streamed data from Twitter via the Twitter API and R statistical software using key terms derived from the first phase. Thematic analysis is employed in the second phase of the analysis where the keywords of each theme are subjected to qualitative interpretation based on the context where these words occurred in. Initial results point towards the indication of categories of insults related to intelligence, physical appearance and worthiness. The linguistic realisations used to communicate these insults are categories of a mixed code of Malay and English. This exhibited innovative and marked (unusual) words and phrases that have crept into the lexicon of online insults. The preferred terms used are also uniquely related to the concept of ‘face’ in the Malay culture.

Keywords: cyberbully, insults, tweets, perpetrators, themes, social media