Netsafe – Cyberbullying: Estimating Societal Costs

Netsafe has releases a report the commissioned on cyberbullying. Curiously the report was done by an economist, Shamubeel Eaqub, I presume to focus on trying to establishing the costs.


New Zealand’s first-ever report into the economic effect of online harm estimates the cost to individuals, communities and interventions to be $444m every year.

The new report commissioned by Netsafe and undertaken by leading economist Shamubeel Eaqub provides an important new assessment of the damage from online bullying and harassment. To date, cyberbullying has been primarily understood in terms of social cost and personal harm.

The report gives NZ a starting point to begin to understand the full impact of this behaviour here in New Zealand, and where to best focus interventions and responses. The survey commissioned for the report reveals that 1 in 10 NZ adults have personally experienced online harm, and that 64% of people are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and its effects on society at large. It highlights that cyberbullying has a much wider affect than the individual person being targeted and that more could be done to address the risks.

Key points from the report:

The online world exposes some people to harm from cyberbullying. The cost to individuals, communities
and interventions are substantial. We estimate the societal cost of cyberbullying is $444m a year.

We used local surveys, international studies, and approaches from other fields to develop a framework and
identify the costs. We have not counted the potential long-term costs from health or productivity effects,
which we hope to pick up in a future iteration of this work.

Additional interventions against cyberbullying could focus on:

  • Destigmatising seeking help. 31% of those experiencing or witnessing cyberbullying did not seek
  • Investing in curriculum for schools. Young people are disproportionately affected by cyberbullying.
  • Raising awareness of cyberbullying and where to seek help. Victims of cyberbullying are most
    likely to turn to their family and friends for help. Awareness of where to go for help would be
  • International coordination of legislation and enforcement of cyberbullying. Currently these are

It seems odd trying to equate the effects of cyber bullying in dollar terms.


Successive new technologies have allowed communication to happen faster and they have become
widespread more quickly. For example, the telephone took nearly 50 years to become mainstream in the US
(over half of households). The home computer took nearly 20 years, the internet 13 years and smartphone 7
years. In New Zealand, nearly 90% of the population have access to the internet.

The widespread adoption of the internet and its applications allow much wider reach and greater intensity
of interactions, both positive and negative.

Like the real world, the online world also has a small population of bullies. The anonymity available online
can mean cyberbullying is more intense than in person. Some surveys show greater negative impact on
happiness and wellbeing from cyberbullying than social bullying.

In a survey we commissioned, conducted by UMR, only 10% of respondents had personally experienced
online harm, although the impact was higher among women, young people and ethnic minorities (we did
not collect more detailed information on disability, gender, etc.).

While most of the population appear unaffected by cyberbullying, some have intensely negative

On victim demographics:

To get a better understanding New Zealander’s experiences and attitudes, we asked UMR to survey New
Zealanders on cyber-bullying using a representative panel of 1,000 respondents. They survey found that
New Zealanders are worried about the impact of cyberbullying and its effects on society at large (64%), and
in diminishing order on a family member, a friend, and the respondent her- or him-self (see Figure 3).

Within this, we saw much higher levels of concern among women, younger people, people with children
and people from minority ethnic groups. Our survey was not large enough to collect information on
disability, LGBTI and other related variables.

Figure 4 shows that within the last year, more people report knowing a friend that experienced some online harm than report experiencing online harm themselves.

Unsurprisingly, women, younger people and people from ethnic minorities reported higher levels of harm

Surprisingly the report gives no details from the survey on “women, younger people and people from ethnic minorities”.

I’ve been cyber bullied quite severely, or at least some numpties tried to bully me (bullies need victims and I fought back rather than be victimised), and they tried seriously to bull this blog to to the extent of abusing court processes to try and shut this site down.

Ironically one of their tools of bullying, Lauda Finem, was shut down by a court order. That gang of numpties attacked, abused, defamed and bullied hundreds of people – and I suspect the demographics of that group would surprise the writer of the above report as I doubt it fits into his assumptions.

The LF bullying was serious enough to end up in a conviction for one of the primary bullies – see “Either Dermot Nottingham is Lauda Finem…or he is so intimately related to it…” and Nottingham has not been acting alone.

As part of his home detention sentence Nottingham is forbidden to access the internet – something he unsuccessfully tried to impose on me. However he continues to abuse court processes – I was in the Court of Appeal yesterday with him still trying to re-litigate a prosecution he withdrew over two years ago.

There are others still being dragged through courts by Nottingham – and they don’t fit the survey claims about demographics.

It would be very difficult to comprehensively survey the extent and impact and demographics of cyberbullying, and I wonder how successful the Netsafe survey has been. The report has a focus on victim demographics that they don’t support with any data.

Did they try to quantify the costs of cyber bullying on the court system? There is no indication that they did – ‘court’ is not mentioned in their estimated cost nor the report at all.

There is a claim of a form of alleged cyber bullying before the court right now – see No news on Blomfield v Slater.

I know of people dragged through court after court that have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending themselves from legal associated with online attacks.

And the cost to the judicial system must be substantial – I had my 14th hearing yesterday in a vexatious series of actions that can now have no substantial outcome – I and another party are legally not guilty and that can’t be changed, we have been awarded costs that are being appealed but as Nottingham is bankrupt he is unlikely to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars of costs owed to me and others.

Did Netsafe consider any of this in their survey?

A lot of people are bullied online, I’m not trying to diminish the size of the problem, but I don’t know how well the survey gets a true picture of the problem.

A possible problem with getting an economist to survey online bullying is they may not have a full understanding of the scope and variety of bullying out there, nor the full costs.

The Nation – housing again

Today on The Nation:

We take a look at the housing crisis. talks to about whether the Govt’s doing enough on social housing.

As Akl’s average house price breaks the million dollar barrier how do we hit the brakes? and John Bolton weigh in.

, , and are on the panel, with and on the Twitter panel

Migration is cyclical. Unaffordable prices cyclical AND structural.


Social housing stock in New Zealand


Affordability has been worsening for decades.


An odd ‘panel of experts’ for media review

There’s a number of curious aspects to this story at NZ Herald: Campbell Live axing prompts review

A group of Kiwi movers and shakers will undertake a review of New Zealand public broadcasting in the wake of Campbell Live’s axing.

Campbell was axed from a commercial television programme that had nothing to do with public broadcasting.

Why the focus on one media presenter? John Campbell left his TV3 show a year ago, so why now?

Community campaign group Action Station is concerned about the decline of public-interest journalism since TV3’s flagship news magazine show was canned last year, amid a public outcry.

The panel’s findings will be presented to the Government in the run up to next year’s General Election.

So it is timed to be used as an election campaign next year.

It has enlisted a panel of experts – including economist Shamubeel Eaqub, singer Lizzie Marvelly, former MediaWorks news boss Mark Jennings, TV and film director Kay Ellmers and policy analyst Wendy McGuinness.

What is singer Lizzie Marvelly an expert on? “She is best known for her career as a classical crossover vocalist and her many performances of the New Zealand national anthem at rugby games” (Wikipedia).

Where is Eaqub’s media expertise? Elmers? She works for Maori TV. McGuinness? Mark Jennings is the only one who appears to have notable media experience.

Action Station spokeswoman Marianne Elliot said “People are very worried that this kind of campaigning is disappearing from television in particular.”

Action Station organises petitions, social media swarms and mass emails to decisions makers. It also creates crowd-funded creative campaigns and offline actions like creative stunts, vigils or hikoi.

The not-for-profit organisation was involved with the Save Campbell Live campaign and teamed up with Auckland teacher Virginia Woolf and policy analyst Fiona Gordon to help stop the trade of ivory in New Zealand.

I think that Action Station has had some close connections with the Greens. They don’t appear to be politicallybalanced or  non-biased.

Here are some of Action Station’s current campaigns:

What is Action Station? According to their website ‘About’:

ActionStation is an independent, member-led not-for-profit organisation representing over 100,000 Kiwis holding power to account, standing for a fair society, healthy environment & economic fairness.

ActionStation is a vital piece of democratic infrastructure for Aotearoa in the 21st century, here to reinvigorate our proud tradition of participatory democracy and people power, using the potential of new technology. 

While they may try to keep a separation they were set up by people closely involved with the Greens, and their campaigns are closely aligned to Green campaigns. The above list of campaigns would not look out of place on the Green website.

To all intents and purposes Action Station looks like an activist arm of the Green Party.

So an odd panel for a media review that is timed to coincide with the next election, run by the very Green-like Action Station. It may not be very politically balanced, nor does it appear to be a very vital ‘piece of democratic infrastructure’.

ReThink on racism

I discovered a programme called ReThink on TV3 yesterday morning that broadcast at 9.30 am,  just prior to their Sunday repeat of The Nation.

Yesterday’s ReThink had a very interesting look at racism in New Zealand via a panel discussion with Raybon Kan, Shamubeel Eaqub and Kath Akuhata Brown:


It runs for 25 minutes but is worth a watch.

From ReThink’s Facebook page:

Solutions to Issues affecting New Zealand and New Zealanders -TV3 Sun 9.30am

Woodhouse on Immigration

Michael Woodhouse, Minister of both Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety, was interviewed on Q & A yesterday.

He explained how New Zealand’s immigration policies and practices actually work.

Video: Immigration and Workplace Safety – Minister (11:12)

Transcript (Immigration segment):

PARKIN Welcome back. And let’s go to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, who joins me from Dunedin. Minister, that target of 60,000 – or that new record that we’ve hit now of 60,000 in net migration – are you comfortable with that? Or do you need to take steps to restrict that to get within your 45,000-55,000?

WOODHOUSE Well, look, I think the discussion you’ve just had shows quite how complex and how many moving parts there are to the immigration story. For me, I think, the popular perception is of 60,000 people coming and staying, and that’s simply not true. We have a residency programme that targets between 45,000 and 50,000 permanent residency places every year. And that hasn’t changed in the last 10 years or so.

PARKIN So being over that doesn’t concern you at all?

WOODHOUSE Well, it’s not over that. That’s the point I’m making. Permanent residency peaked at 52,000 about 10 years ago, and then dropped by 20%. Now, it’s going up now. It’s probably around 45,000 or 46,000. That’s the permanent residencies. What’s creating the volatility as was described by your panel is the temporary migration – those labour-market tested work visas we need to rebuild Canterbury, the extra working holidaymakers that are coming, and the quite strong growth in tertiary education.

PARKIN And if they are pushing up interest rates, exchange rates, house prices, I mean, is that really good for anybody?

WOODHOUSE Well, I think what you heard is there’s some contest about whether or not those things are occurring.

PARKIN Do you believe they’re occurring?

WOODHOUSE I think there are a number of factors at play in both the interest rates and the housing story, and the government has a number of measures to address, particularly, the Auckland housing market. But I think what we’ve got is two things going on in immigration. Firstly, we have a skills requirement, and also we have a labour requirement.

PARKIN Let’s talk about that skills requirement, because the 149 checkout operators, 227 shelf fillers– I mean, are those settings really right for an essential skills visa?

WOODHOUSE Well, you’ve described them as essential skills, but actually they are what’s known as labour market-tested work visas. Now, it’s been a while since I’ve had a look at the checkout operators, but when I last did, there was one visa of that group that had been awarded in Auckland. The overwhelming majority of them are going to the South Island in places like Queenstown and Wanaka where there is virtually zero unemployment. And, indeed, we have quite a strong mismatch between where the labour need is and where the people are. And one of the things I would say is that anybody who wants to seek work should head south. There’s plenty of it.

Preceding this there was a panel discussion on Immigration. It also pointed out the realities of our immigration, making it clear that immigration of permanent residents is steady and most of the fluctuations are due to temporary workers, foreign students and returning New Zealanders (who are returning from Australia in particular).

Immigration: Are we benefiting? (Part 1) (10:31)

Part 1 of our debate on the economic benefits of immigration – Michael Parkin hosts Dr Don Brash, Shamubeel Eaqub and Professor Paul Spoonley

Immigration: Are we benefiting? (Part 2) (8:09) 

Part 2 of our debate on the economic benefits of immigration