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Dealing with Online Harassment

August 12, 2014 by Kiersi

Photo by Carissa Rodgers

Photo by Carissa Rodgers

This subject has come up quite a bit recently, as a number of my friends on Twitter have become the target of online harassment for various reasons—for being activists, for being outspoken, for being themselves. It’s a very sad thing to watch someone’s resolve and passion get worn down by cyber-bullying, especially when the issues they’re speaking out about are so very important and salient.

In case this ever happens to you, here are some steps for tackling online harassment and keeping yourself safe. If you guys like this or find it helpful, I’d love to do a follow-up piece on how to mentally handle online bullying and keep doing what you do, despite the haters. (Because seriously, screw the haters!)

1. Screenshot and record all incidents that occur.

The moment online harassment occurs, take screenshots and save them with the time it happened. Keep track of every interaction with the harasser and keep it as evidence, because you never know where a situation may lead.

2. Own your identity.

Especially if someone is trying to impersonate or shame you online, claiming your own identity on social media platforms allows you to control what appears about you online—and combats anyone pretending to be you.

If someone creates a false profile of you online, immediately report the impersonator’s profile to the social media service provider. Alert friends, family, and other contacts to not accept any requests from the impersonator’s account.

3. Remove any sensitive information.

In case an online harasser decides to take their attacks offline, be sure to take down any sensitive information about yourself or your family, including: your address, phone number, location, and personal email address.

4. Disable locations and check-ins on your mobile device.

Don’t check in anywhere using your mobile device, and be sure to disable location tracking on any applications you use. A cyber stalker can track your movement and daily habits using this kind of publicly-available information, allowing them to predict where you might be and when.

5. Report harassment to your local police department.

Many small police departments don’t have online divisions, but some do. File a police report about the harassment and provide all evidence regarding your interactions with the harasser. In addition, file a case with the FBI to put it on the record. This can help anyone else who is harassed by this individual in the future.

6. Do not engage your harasser.

Most harassment occurs because it gets attention from the recipient. Your harasser wants a response from you. The best way to fight online harassment is to not give the harasser what he or she wants.

I love you all! Please stay safe out on that world wide web!


6 Comments »

  1. Geez! It’s so unfortunate that you even have to write a blog post about this. I have been reading a LOT about an author who attacked a reviewer and threatened to sue, all over a bad review and the use of her book cover and author photo in the blog post. Yes, that happened. I think the internet has made bullying worse because now the bullies can be anonymous. It’s so sad that this is even an issue, but I guess crazy people are going to be crazy, internet or no internet. And you’re right about not engaging the harasser. I am definitely a believer in the motto “Don’t feed the trolls.”

    • Kiersi says:

      I KNOW. I hate it so much. I can’t believe how up-in-arms people get over totally insignificant things like reviews. GET A GRIP! Definitely second not feeding the trolls–it only makes them grow bigger. Thanks for stopping by, Quanie!

  2. This is a timely post for me because I’ve been having a bit of a problem with three bullies. It started in May and is sporadic, but whenever it happens I’m sick about it for days. It never occurred to me to take screen shots. I’ve always been so upset, it just skipped my mind. I have never responded in any way, though they keep baiting me. I hope they’ll move on to more fertile pastures soon. It’s sad. I have a book releasing next week, but instead of being excited, I’m nervous that these women will come out to play with the increased exposure. Sigh.

    • Kiersi says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about this, Kimber. You’re doing the right thing by not engaging with them. I know it’s nerve wracking to be harassed–I was, once, too–but I hope you can still be excited for your book release and know that you have a big support network behind you!

    • rfeiertag says:

      Kimber,

      Congratulations on the book release! I’m also very sorry to hear that you’re being attacked. Let us know how we can support you.

      Ruth

  3. Great advice. It’s a shame people have to ruin online interactions by harassing others.

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