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Bullying: Social Media as Problem & Solution

#sxsw #cyberbully

As social media platforms evolve and multiply, so too do the instances of online bullying. The epidemic has reached a crisis point in American culture, with nearly one in three kids reporting instances of bullying. The prevalence of social media and the anonymity it allows create opportunities for kids to be bullied anytime and anywhere.

So how do we leverage a weapon to be part of the solution? Hear about the innovative ways individuals, including Lee Hirsch, director of the groundbreaking documentary Bully, and organizations, including It Gets Better and the Ad Council, have energized a movement and empowered people to combat the negative side to online culture. Learn how social platforms like Reddit are moderated and controlled, both officially by administrators and organically by community members themselves, to unify, protect, and respond in instances of bullying online.


Marta is a passionate advocate for the benefits of pseudonymous online communities. She firmly believes that once the trappings of real-life identities are stripped away, communication changes. These conversations often become more honest, genuine, and authentic as they begin to dig into the complex, wonderful, and messy parts of life.

As Director of Community Care at LiveJournal and Community Operations Manager at reddit, she has combined process and a nuanced approach to address legal considerations, user privacy, technical support, abuse issues, and community issues and concerns.

Her hobbies include studying online culture and buying nerdy t-shirts. In her spare time, she enjoys fighting spammers, botnets, and social media marketers.

Lee Hirsch Dir of Bully The Bully Project

Known for creating change through his documentaries, Lee Hirsch’s debut feature film, AMANDLA! A REVOLUTION IN FOUR PART HARMONY, chronicles the history of the South African anti-apartheid struggle through a celebration of its musical heroes. This film was released to acclaim, winning the Audience and Freedom of Expression Awards at the Sundance Film Festival, as well as one of the five Emmy awards it was nominated for, among many other honors.

He is the founder, director and producer of the Local Voices for Obama project, a series of
ads featuring Obama supporters in small towns in swing states speaking candidly about their
support of this candidate. Winner of Best Presidential Ad and Best Independent Expenditure
at the 2009 Reed Awards, judged by political luminaries including George Stephanopolous, Joe
Trippi and Christine Todd Whitman.

In 2007, Hirsch also directed and produced the History Channel special, Act of Honor. The
program paints an intimate portrait of a Mexican-American family dealing with the tragic death
of their son, Rafael Peralta, who threw himself on a live grenade and saved the lives of several
Marines in his unit during the battle of Fallujah. Act of Honor traces Peralta’s extraordinary
journey from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego to the streets of Iraq. A truly unique immigration
and war story, the film has been applauded in reviews by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and other major publications.

His newest film, BULLY, premiered on March 30th, 2012. Hirsch was inspired to make the film by his own experiences of being bullied throughout his childhood. Following five kids and families over the course of a school year, the film confronts bullying’s most tragic outcomes, including the stories of two families who’ve lost children to suicide and a mother who waits to learn the fate of her 14 year-old daughter, incarcerated after bringing a gun on her school bus. With rare access to the Sioux City Community School District, the film also gives an intimate glimpse into school busses classrooms, cafeterias and even principals' offices, offering insight into the often-cruel world of children, as teachers, administrators and parents struggle to find answers.

In addition to the film, Hirsch invites supporters to join “The Bully Project,” a
social action campaign to end bullying that started as a result of BULLY. “The Bully Project”
highlights solutions that both address immediate needs and lead to systemic change.
Through this movement, Hirsch has created 1 Million Kids, a movement in partnership with various corporations and educators in an effort to bring the film to one million young people across the U.S. and Canada in order to improve school climate and promote caring. So far 100,000 kids have seen the film for free. This movement is creating an impact that is affecting all walks of life including the White House and Congress.

Hirsch was born and raised on Long Island, New York, and attended Hampshire College. He currently lives in New York City.

Priscilla Natkins Exec VP Ad Council

Priscilla Natkins, Executive Vice President, Director of Client Services, joined The Advertising Council in 1999 after seventeen years of account management at several New York advertising agencies, including DMB&B, JWT and Bates USA. Ms. Natkins worked on a broad range of packaged goods and financial services accounts during her long tenure in marketing within the advertising industry, including work on Procter & Gamble, Nestle, Citicorp,and T.Rowe Price.

At the Ad Council, Ms.Natkins oversees the development and evaluation of all of the campaigns on the Ad Council docket. To this end, Ms. Natkins is chiefly responsible for the Ad Council’s relationships with nearly fifty non-profit and government client groups, as well as over forty volunteer advertising agencies. In addition to managing the strategic and creative development of the Ad Council campaigns, Ms. Natkins oversees the Research and Evaluation Department, as well as the Creative Services Department, which is responsible for all the printed collateral material developed at the Ad Council, and the physical and digital distribution of the PSA materials to media outlets across the country.

Ms. Natkins is the presiding Ad Council member across the Campaign Review Committees, a member of the Ad Council team responsible for assessing new issues to be considered as Ad Council campaigns, and is also an internal team leader on the Ad Council’s Advisory Committee for Social Issues.

Ms. Natkins holds an MBA from Columbia University, with a specialization in Marketing.

Ms. Natkins shares the Ad Council’s commitment to children’s and environmental issues. She is a board member and has served as Chairman of the Board of Let’s Get Ready, a non-profit organization dedicated to college access for under-served students. She is also a member of the President’s Council for The Wilderness Society.

Scott Zumwalt Chief Digital Strategist It Gets Better Project

Scott Zumwalt is the chief digital strategist that helped launch and develop the award winning It Gets Better Project ( over the last two years. Scott is a consultant in Washington, DC with nearly a decade of experience in digital strategy and marketing for non-profits and progressive political campaigns.

Scott previously worked for Blue State Digital where he directed strategy accounts for American Red Cross and the Communications Workers of America from 2008-2010. Prior to his work at BSD, Scott served as the New Media Director for Kay Hagan's successful campaign for the U.S. Senate in North Carolina against former Sen. Elizabeth Dole. Scott also directed online strategy in Oregon and Iowa for Hillary Clinton for President and served as an online strategist for the then Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack from 2005-2007.

Scott, a native of Chappaqua, New York, graduated cum laude from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Political Economy and minor in Sociology. Scott also holds a certificate in Graphic & Web Design and focus in web design and development from Boston University Center for Digital Imaging and Arts.