PORTLAND Six da Vinci Arts Middle School students were targeted by cyber bullies who used anonymous Instagram accounts, district officials said.
The threats were made from two anonymous accounts. At first, they targeted one child and then included others. The threats warned of graphic physical and sexual violence, as first reported on OregonLive.
Instagram is most commonly used as a photo-sharing social media site. In these cases, the threats were written under normal-looking photos.
After learning about the cyber bullying in September, school district leaders contacted the police and Instagram about the threats. Instagram eventually removed the anonymous accounts more than a week later.
Many parents were outraged it took that long.
It was very outrageous to think that this huge corporation can continue to have these things being posted and children being harmed and it's not stopping, said Rachel Gustafson, whose child attends da Vinci.
An Instagram spokesperson sent this statement to KGW Tuesday:
Instagram has a clear set of community guidelines that make it clear what is and isn't allowed, and this includes prohibiting content that bullies or harasses. We encourage people to report bullying using the built-in reporting tools next to every photo or video on Instagram, and to consult the information in our Help Center that addresses bullying prevention. We have a team that is dedicated to reviewing and responding to the reports we receive, and we prioritize reports of bullying.
Investigators said they have been able to trace the Internet address of the person who posted the bullying comments. The district attorney is deciding whether to press charges.
Meantime, school officials said the student who was the initial target of the bullying was still recovering from the traumatic experience.
Experts said one of the problems with social media sites like Instagram is that users can post anonymously, which allows bullies to harass others without accountability.
Parents were advised to know what applications and sites their children visit and to talk to their kids about their online experiences.
KGW Reporters Nina Mehlhaf and Pat Dooris contributed to this report.