Skip to main content

Machiavellian Apparatus of Cyberbullying: Its Triggers Igniting Fury With Legal Impacts

The system appears in perpetual disequilibrium or bifurcation, if each of its terms in turn passes through a zone of continuous variation, then the language itself will being to vibtrate and stutter [10, p. 83]


Young netizens are an emerging generator of online content, engaging in an increasing number of online flaming interactions. This shortened communication mode has incorporated power amplifiers, enabling the inclusion of both verbal and non-verbal triggers, thereby initiating abuses akin to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying has emerged as an extremely unstable hot issue, which is difficult to regulate upstream, severely impacting inexperienced young netizens. This Machiavellian apparatus proves to be sophisticated, given its powerful nature, and results in its victims being ensnared in a cyber net from which they see very little escape. Laws have been enacted to combat cyberbullying, which is rampant among netizens, highly naive (the victims) or actively aggressive (the harassers) in their use of various social media platforms.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3


  1.—Accessed 24 March 2021.

  2. Abbreviation meaning: Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciaire – website:—Accessed 25 March 2021.

  3. Accessed 25 March 2021.

  4. Abbreviation meaning: Plateforme d'Harmonisation, d'Analyse, de Recoupement et d'Orientation des Signalements – website:!input.action Accessed 25 March 2021.

  5. Accessed 25 March 2021.

  6. Accessed 25 March 2021.

  7. Accessed 25 March 2021.

  8. Accessed 25 March 2021.

  9. Accessed 28 March 2021.

  10. Accessed 27 March 2021.

  11. Accessed 28 March 2021.

  12. Accessed 27 March 2021.

  13. Sina Weibo is an open access social media to the users above 14 years old, the original purpose of which is to connect with celebrities. Later, it gradually evolves as a place for ordinary people to post their own stories online and interact with others.

  14. Accessed 1 September 2020.

  15. Article 222–33-2–2. Accessed on 29 March 2021.

  16. Law n°2018–708, Accessed on 29 March 2021.

Case Citations

  1. Cai Xiaoqing insult case, No.1046. Accessed 1 September 2020

  2. Shen v. ALBANY UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT, No. 3: 17-cv-02478-JD (lead case) (N.D. Cal. Nov. 29, 2017). Accessed 26 March 2021.


  1. Ansary, N.S. 2020. Cyberbullying: Concepts, theories, and correlates informing evidence-based best practices for prevention. Aggression and Violent Behavior 50: 1–9.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Bozbayındır, G. 2019. Cyberbullying and criminal law. İstanbul Hukuk Mecmuası 77 (1): 425–450.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Butler, D., S. Kift, and M. Campbell. 2009. Cyber bullying in schools and the law: is there an effective means of addressing the power imbalance? Murdoch University Law Review 16 (1): 84–114.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Centre Jean Gol. 2017. Le cyber-harcèlement des enfants et des adolescents. Accessed 26 March 2021

  5. Cohn, N., J. Engelen, and J. Schilperoord. 2019. The grammar of emoji? Constraints on communicative pictorial sequencing. Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications 4 (1): 1–18.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Cyberbullying facts and statistics for 2018–2021. Accessed 15 March 2021.

  7. Danesi, M. 2016. The semiotics of emoji: The rise of visual language in the age of the internet. London/New York: Bloomsbury Publishing.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Deleuze, G. 1997. Essays critical and clinical. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  9. Deleuze, G., and F. Guattari. 1987. A thousand plateaus—capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Dordolo, N. 2014. The role of power imbalance in cyberbullying. Inkblot The Undergraduate Journal of Psychology 3: 35–41.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Europe 1, 12 January 2021. Donald Trump suspendu par Twitter: les réseaux sociaux ont-ils trop de pouvoir ?. Accessed 24 March 2021.

  12. Fraisse, N. 2015. Marion, 13 ans pour toujours. Paris: Librairie Générale Française.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Hayward, John O. 2011. Anti-Cyber bullying statutes: threat to student free speech. Cleveland State Law Review 59 (1): 85–124.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hendricks, L., R. Lumadue, and L.R. Waller. 2012. The evolution of bullying to cyber bullying: an overview of the best methods for implementing a cyber bullying prevention program. National Forum Journal of Counseling and Addiction 1 (1): 1–9.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hinduja, S., and J.W. Patchin. 2019. Connecting adolescent suicide to the severity of bullying and cyberbullying. Journal of School Violence 18 (3): 333–346.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Marusek, S., and A. Wagner. 2019. #MeToo: A tentacular movement of positionality and legal powers. International Journal Legal Discourse 4 (1): 1–14.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Matulewska, A., and D.J. Gwiazdowicz. 2020. “I would kill the director and teachers in the school Cyberbullying of hunters in Poland.” International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Matulewska, A., and D.J. Gwiazdowicz. 2020. Cyberbullying in Poland: a case study of aggressive messages with emojis targeted at the community of hunters in urbanized society. Social Semiotics 30 (3): 379–395.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Power, A., A. Keane, B. Nolan, and B. O’Neill. 2018. Detecting discourse-independent negated forms of public textual cyberbullying. Journal of Computer-Assisted Linguistic Research 2: 1–20.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Statista. Le cyber-harcèlement en France – Faits et chiffres: Accessed 15 March 2021.

  21. Sourander, A., A.B. Klomek, M. Ikonen, J. Lindroos, T. Luntamo, M. Koskelainen, T. Ristkari, and H. Helenius. 2010. Psychosocial risk factors associated with cyberbullying among adolescents: a population-based study. Archives of General Psychiatry 67 (7): 720–728.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Tang, J.J., Y. Yu, H.C. Wilcox, C. Kang, and R. Chen. 2020. Global risks of suicidal behaviours and being bullied and their association in adolescents: school-based health survey in 83 countries. EClinicalMedicine 19: 1–11.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Wagner, A. 2019. E-victimization and E-predation theory as the dominant aggressive communication: the case of cyber bullying. Social Semiotics 29 (3): 303–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Wagner, A., and S. Marusek. 2019. Rumors on the net: a brackish suspension of speech and hate. Law, Culture and the Humanities.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Wagner, A., S. Marusek, and W. Yu. 2020. Emojis and law: contextualized flexibility of meaning in cyber communication. Social Semiotics 30 (3): 396–414.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Xu, Y. 2020. The invisible aggressive fist: Features of cyberbullying language in China. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Zhu, D. and R. Guo. 2019. A Survey on Internet use and Internet security of Chinese Adolescents. In Society of China Analysis and Forecast (2019) ed. Li Peilin, Chen Guangjin, and Zhang Yi. Beijing: Social Science Academic Press.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Wei Yu.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wagner, A., Yu, W. Machiavellian Apparatus of Cyberbullying: Its Triggers Igniting Fury With Legal Impacts. Int J Semiot Law 34, 945–963 (2021).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Cyberbullying
  • Power amplifier
  • Verbal triggers
  • Non-verbal triggers
  • Machiavellian apparatus
  • Law
  • Young netizens