Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool) Assistant Professor of Practice Anthony Rotolo contributed an editorial “Blame ignorance, not technology for this tragedy” to The Post-Standard Sunday, October 11, 2010, about the recent suicide by Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi.

“It is dangerous to blame social media for Tyler’s death,” Rotolo wrote. “It may be comforting, somehow, to tell ourselves that these technologies have created a warped sense of privacy or a culture of over sharing among young people. To accept this explanation is to ignore the real issue staring us in the face.”

Clementi was an eighteen-year-old freshman at Rutgers who jumped off a bridge after his roommate secretly broadcast him having sex on the Internet.

“Tyler was tormented because he was gay.” Rotolo continued, “His right to privacy was violated by homophobic students who attacked him online until he saw no other escape. Social media were simply a means to an end for the students who bullied him. Sadly, the same cruelty has been inflicted on countless others, often without the help of the Internet.”

Though bullying is amplified on the Internet, Rotolo said, anti-bullying and social awareness campaigns have also spread in influence. He cited the messages by Ellen DeGeneres on her Facebook page as well as the release of videos on YouTube by the Trevor Project and National Center for Bullying Prevention as proof that social media is not the underlying problem when it comes to bullying.

“Bullying is an old problem with a new medium. It can be addressed and even stopped, but the real solution is not technical,” Rotolo said. “We must continue to teach young people how to be tolerant of others, and to respect differences, especially when communication happens so broadly online. We cannot look away when we feel unfamiliar with the social networks they use, and we should not blame the medium when we see real cruelty displayed toward others.”

Rotolo holds a B.S. in Information Management and Technology and a M.S. in Information Management, both from the Syracuse University iSchool. In May 2009, he received the iSchool Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award, and in December, he received the Web-based Information Science Education Consortium’s 2009 Excellence in Online Education Award. He is also the co-founder of, a creative agency specializing in social media, animation and interactive content.