Rihanna: Cyberbully?

The pop singer drew criticism for her response to an online insult.

Rihanna (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Rihanna (Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

(The Root) — Rihanna is definitely living up to her “badgalriri” Instagram monkier.

The pop superstar had fingers wagging all across social media this morning when she clapped back at another Instagram user who insulted the singer and her family. Known for defending herself against online commenters, Rihanna responded rather swiftly.

It’s not the fact that Rihanna responded, but how she responded that has the internet abuzz. Rihanna Instagrammed a picture of the commenter next to a picture of a goat with the caption, “Can you spot the 3 things that are different in these pics? Chile, it’s time to privatize that account!”

And privatize she did — the user’s account was locked soon after. It’s very likely that Rihanna’s “navy” was all over the girl’s Instagram account, had probably found her Facebook and Twitter pages and were quite possibly looking for her mother’s address as soon as she posted the picture.

Some say that Rihanna’s response constitutes cyberbullying, a very heavy charge in an era where it is not uncommon for people to make death threats via their computers or commit suicide because of online harassment. Rihanna didn’t respond directly or privately to the young woman in question (as she has done in the past) — she essentially plucked the girl out of her seat, dragged her to the front of the classroom and lashed her as everyone watched, encouraging her fans to do the same.

The debate online is now whether or not Rihanna and other celebrities should be held to a higher standard of behavior. Some say that as a celebrity, jeers and insults come with the territory, and it’s up to her to set a good example for those who idolize her. When accosted, respond if you must, but do so in a mature, civil way. Others say that celebrity or not, Rihanna is still a human being. It is unreasonable for her to be expected to behave perfectly all the time, especially given how nasty Internet commenters can be (just ask Fantasia).

Are personal attacks the price of fame? Should Rihanna lose endorsements because of her behavior? Was she justified in swinging back? See what Twitter has to say below.