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Social media-related elder abuse likely underreported

If you are among the many people facing the difficult task of placing one of your parents or another loved one in a nursing home, you are probably doing everything in your power to find a reputable, safe facility. Regrettably, however, allegations of abuse and neglect plague many American nursing homes.

While in many cases, allegations of elder abuse or neglect involve physical injuries and ailments, a relatively new type of elder abuse is becoming increasingly common and problematic in many areas: social media-related elder abuse. According to NPR, the nonprofit organization ProPublica reported on about three dozen instances of social media-related elder abuse last year, many of which involved a particular social media channel known for its images that disappear after a short period.

Tracking elder abuse on social media

While the fact that social media-related elder abuse is becoming increasingly common is undeniable, it is difficult to get an accurate idea of just how widespread the problem truly is. This is likely due, at least in part, to problems relating to reporting such abuse. The aforementioned social media channel known for its disappearing images, for example, does not accept complaints or allegations of abuse from third parties. What happens, then, when the victims of said abuse have dementia, are not social media savvy or otherwise do not have the wherewithal to report when they become victims?

Several other popular social media channels do allow complaints about abusive content from third parties, but many advocates for nursing home residents believe much more could and should be done to protect them. For example, some encourage nursing homes and assisted living facilities to train their workers about the importance of reporting instances of abuse or neglect, on social media and otherwise. Some also encourage these facilities to contract with third parties who can keep tabs on their workers and promptly spot signs of potential abuse.

Nursing home residents have a right to privacy, and they should not have to worry about suffering harm at the hands of those trusted to protect them.

 

 

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