New app tar­gets bul­ly­ing


When Keryn Tubbs dis­cov­ered an anony­mous In­sta­gram page set up at her high school to em­bar­rass other stu­dents, she not only got the page taken down, she got think­ing.

Tubbs, now a sec­ond year law stu­dent at Vic­to­ria Univer­sity, is the brain­child be­hind a free web app, In Case of On­line Neg­a­tiv­ity (ICON). The jour­ney started in 2016 when, as a 17-year-old se­nior mem­ber of Sticks ‘n Stones, a youth led bul­ly­ing preven­tion group, Tubbs sup­ported stu­dents who had pri­vate pho­tos shared on the pub­lic page. She was able to get the page taken down, but she wor­ried about other teens who might not know how to deal with on­line hate, neg­a­tiv­ity or harm.

Her so­lu­tion was ICON – a web app de­vel­oped to sup­port Kiwi teens that could pro­vide rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion for some­one who felt help­less to make their own choices about what to do next.

The first phase of get­ting her project off the ground was to ex­plore what help was al­ready out there.

‘‘Google searches gave pages and pages of re­sults that were gen­eral and writ­ten mainly for adults. We felt re­ally judged and em­bar­rassed and we were not even deal­ing with is­sues. We thought there had to be some­thing we could do that would be dif­fer­ent and could help some­one to not feel so help­less.’’

Tubbs cre­ated a plan and, with sup­port from Sticks ‘n Stones mem­bers and chief ex­ecu- tive Karla San­ders, suc­cess­fully ap­plied for fund­ing from the Voda­fone foun­da­tion to cre­ate a pro­to­type of her idea. From there, she ap­plied to the Netsafe Part­ner­ship Fund and led a team of teens from across NZ to make ICON a re­al­ity, she said.

‘‘It is not an al­ter­na­tive to the in­cred­i­ble ser­vices al­ready out there but a way of mak­ing sure that teens have the in­for­ma­tion at their fin­ger­tips to con­nect with them.’’

The app is avail­able through any web browser at

Keryn Tubbs has de­vel­oped a free anti-bul­ly­ing web app, ICON (In Case of On­line Neg­a­tiv­ity).

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