A User’s Guide to Online Harassment

What constitutes online harassment? — Spreading rumors about a person. Publish personal information, such as a person’s address, phone number, etc.

What constitutes online harassment?

— Spreading rumors about a person. Posting personal information, such as a person’s address, phone number, or the names of loved ones.

— Threats of harm to the victim, loved ones or pets, or threats to reveal harmful information to a spouse, relative or co-worker.

— Repeated insults, degrading language and provocations intended to make a person feel bad about themselves.

— Posting photos, including personal or sexual ones, without the consent of the victim.

What to do if you are being bullied online:

— Document the harassment. Take screenshots of the direct messages or websites where the abuse is happening. Save emails. Note the times and dates of the harassment. All of this will be useful in the event of a criminal investigation or prosecution.

– Acquire help. If someone seriously threatens your safety, call the police. If you are under 18, tell a parent or another trusted adult. If online harassment bothers you, talk to a counselor or trusted friend. If you need to monitor what your stalker is saying about you online, ask a friend to do it for you. If your harassment is work-related, tell your boss and your human resources department immediately and ask for help.

— Report the harassment to the social media platform or website hosting the content. Most platforms have harassment policies and a way to ask for help. Many platforms also offer users the option to block accounts that send them unwanted messages.

— Prioritize your safety. Analyze the level of harassment you experience. Has your stalker targeted you using multiple platforms, including email, direct message, or text? Have the person’s actions moved offline and into the real world? Have they tried to contact you at your home or workplace? If you have legitimate reasons to fear for your safety, contact law enforcement.

– Lock your social media privacy. If your accounts are public, consider making them private. Make sure only trusted friends can see personal information or photos. Use strong passwords that cannot be easily guessed by others and two-factor authentication to make it harder to access your account. Don’t reuse the same passwords for different sites and apps. Practice good cyber hygiene and periodically review your past posts as well as your current security and privacy settings.

– To reach. Talk to a trusted friend or relative. Tell them what’s going on and how you feel.

— Think carefully before sending a reply, as this could lead to more harassment. If you choose to respond, ask a colleague or trusted friend to review your response before sending it.

Resources:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/

https://womensmediacenter.com/speech-project/tools-resources

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