What constitutes online harassment?

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

— Threats of harm, to the victim, their loved ones or pets, or threats to reveal damaging information to a spouse, relative or coworker.

— Repeated insults, demeaning language and taunts designed to make a person feel bad about themselves.

— The posting of photos, including personal or sexual photos, without the victim’s consent.

What to do if you’re being harassed online:

— Document the harassment. Take screen shots of direct messages or websites where the abuse occurs. Save emails. Write down the times and dates of the harassment. This will all be helpful in the event of a criminal investigation or lawsuit.

— Get help. If someone makes a serious threat on your safety, call the police. If you are under 18, tell a parent or other trusted adult. If online harassment is bothering you, talk to a counselor or trusted friend. If you need to monitor what your harasser is saying about you online, ask a friend to do it for you. If your harassment is related to your job, tell your boss and your human resources department immediately and ask for help.

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— Report the harassment to the social media platform or website that hosts the content. Most platforms have policies on harassment and a way to seek help. Many platforms also give users the ability to block accounts that are sending them unwanted messages.

— Prioritize your safety. Analyze the level of harassment you’re receiving. Has your harasser 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 reason to fear for your safety, contact law enforcement.

— Lock down 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 can’t be easily guessed by others and two-factor authentication to make it harder for someone to access your account. Do not 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.

— Reach out. Talk to a trusted friend or a parent. Tell them what’s happening and how it makes you feel.

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

Resources:

https://onlineharassmentfieldmanual.pen.org/

https://www.stopbullying.gov/

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