Guide to Responding to Online Harassment

Four out of ten internet users have experienced online harassment. 88% of teens say that they have witnessed someone being mean to someone else on social media sites. This resource is designed to help you understand what can you do if someone is targeting you on a social media site.

See also the Association for Media Literacy’s End User License Agreement posters.

Different social media sites have different rules about what kinds of posts can be reported, and offer different tools to help users stop harassment. As you read this resource, you should think about which sites offer you more protection and which offer you less. What do you think the ideal tools and content policies would be?

How can I stop someone from contacting me?

Facebook
  • Block the person to stop them from being able to message you, add you as a friend, tag you, invite you to events and groups, or view your Timeline.
  • Unfriend the person to stop them from being able to post on your wall, or view information that you’ve marked “friends only”
Twitter
  • Block the person to stop them from being able to follow you, send you direct messages, or see your twitter account. You will not see tweets that they mention you in
  • Flag a message as abusive to stop that person from being able to message you until you message them first
  • Set your profile to “protected” so only people who you approve can follow you
Instagram
  • Block the person to stop them from being able follow you, send you messages, or view your profile. Note that you will not see pictures or comments that they mention you in – which may not be what you want.
  • Delete a comment someone else has made on your photo
  • Make your profile private so only people who you approve can follow you
Reddit
  • Block a user from messaging you by clicking ‘block user’ below their message
Youtube
Tumblr
  • Block the person to stop them from being able to follow you, message you, like or reblog your posts, or see your blog or posts in their search results
  • Use your blog settings to block messages from a certain person, or close your inbox to anonymous messages, or to all messages.
  • Use your blog settings to make your blog visible only to people who follow you.

What kind of behaviour can I report?

Facebook

    Facebook’s Community Standards outlines what can be reported:

  • Credible threats of physical harm of individuals
  • Specific threats of theft, vandalism, or other financial harm
  • Promotion or encouragement of suicide or any other type of self-injury, including eating disorders
  • Identification of survivors or victims of suicide or self-injury
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Promotion or threats of sexual violence, including images without permission of the people in them
  • Nudity, except for women breastfeeding, post-mastectomy scars, and art that depicts nude figures
  • Violent and graphic content
Twitter

Twitter’s Abusive Behaviour Policy outlines what can be reported:

  • Impersonation
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Sharing of private or confidential information, including intimate pictures taken or shared without the permission of the people in them
  • Promotion of self-harm
  • Indirect or direct threats of violence
Instagram

    Instagram’s Help Centre outlines what can be reported:

  • Impersonation
  • Bullying or harassment
  • Sharing of private or confidential information
  • Promotion of suicide or self-harm
  • Inappropriate comments or posts
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Blackmail
Reddit

Reddit’s Content Policy outlines what can be reported:

  • Illegal content
  • Involuntary pornography i.e. intimate photos that are being shared without the consent of the person in them
  • Content that encourages or incites violence
  • Threats, harassment, or bullying
  • Personal and confidential information
  • Impersonation
Youtube

Youtube’s Policy Center outlines what can be reported:

  • Nudity or sexual content
  • Sharing personal information or posting a video without the consent of the person in the video
  • Harassment or bullying
  • Graphic or violent content
  • Harmful or dangerous content
  • Hateful content
  • Threats
Tumblr

Tumblr’s Community Guidelines outline what can be reported:

  • Malicious (hateful) speech
  • Harm to minors
  • Sexually explicit video
  • Promotion or glorification of self harm
  • Impersonation
  • Harassment
  • Sharing of private or confidential information
  • Spam

How can I get rid of photos or posts other people have made?

How can I get the site to ban someone?

Facebook
  • Remove the tag to stop a photo or post from appearing on your Timeline
  • If you think a photo or post violates Facebook’s Community Standards, you can report it. A Facebook employee will review your report and may remove the post
Twitter
  • Remove a photo tag to stop a photo from appearing on your profile This links to instructions for who can tag you in a photo, not removing tags
  • Change who can tag you in photos
  • If you think a photo or tweet violates the Twitter Rules, you can report it. A Twitter employee will review your report and may remove the photo or tweet or suspend the account of the person who posted it
Instagram
  • Remove the tag to stop a photo from appearing on your profile
  • If you think a photo violates Instagram’s Community Guidelines, you can report it. An Instagram employee will review your report and may remove the photo or suspend the account of the person who posted it
Reddit
  • If you think a post or comment violates Reddit’s Content Policy, you can report it. A Reddit employee will review your report and may remove the content or ban the person who posted it
Youtube
Tumblr

How can I report harassment to the police?

You can report someone to your local police if they are:

  • Threatening you
  • Harassing you so that you feel unsafe
  • Sharing intimate photos of you without your consent

You may be able to sue someone for libel if they are saying untrue things about you to other people which harm your reputation.

You should take screenshots of posts that you want to show to the police:

  • In IOS, press the Home and Power buttons simultaneously.
  • In Android, some phones use a combination of pressing the power button and one of the volume buttons. Others use the power button and home button.
  • On a Mac: press Command-Shift-3 to capture the entire screen or  Command-Shift-4 to select the part of your screen you want to capture
  • On a Chromebook, hold down the Ctrl button and press the Switch Window button.
  • On a PC: press the PrtSc button, then open Paint and press Ctrl-v to paste the screenshot

However, you should keep in mind that if you don’t know who is harassing you, it will be difficult for you or the police to stop them. If the person who is harassing you lives outside of Canada, it may be difficult for the police to help you, but it has happened. Because most social media companies are outside Canada, and therefore outside the control of Canadian laws, it is best to start with the companies’ own policies and procedures.

We cannot control actions that others may take and it is great that these social media companies have created ways to respond to harassment. But it will save us and the companies a lot of time and effort if we are careful about our own social media actions.

Before posting, commenting or friending, pause for a moment to be sure that you feel good about the content you are sending or the people you are friending. If you feel uncomfortable, you might re-consider.

 

 

 

 

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