Online harassment is a type of harassment that can take place on multiple platforms including email, instant messaging, social media sites, blogs and chat rooms. It includes offensive, abusive, violent, threatening, racist or explicit online content, which is designed to cause alarm or distress. It often involves cyber-bullying or “trolling”, but the creation of fake profiles in an individual’s name or using their pictures can also amount to an instance of harassment.
The University’s Student Disciplinary Procedure gives more detail on what constitutes online misconduct.
Experiencing online harassment and/or cyberbullying can be very challenging to deal with, and can have a big impact on a person, especially as it can feel very difficult to escape. Having nasty comments or images, for example, sent directly to your phone can make it very invasive,
Below are some tips on how to deal with online harassment and cyberbullying.
Tips on how to deal with online harassment
- 'Don't feed the trolls': Though we recognise that it may be difficult, the best thing you can do is not respond to the person who is posting abuse. This is because it is unlikely that you will be able to resolve things by responding – whoever is attacking you is often posting the messages just to get a reaction.
- Block profiles; if you are able to, try blocking profiles, accounts or phone numbers who are harassing you. You can also contact social media platforms, or phone providers to help with this.
- Make a log: keep a record of any messages, images, and calls that you receive. Note down dates, and patterns and take screenshots. Don't delete anything.
- Dealing with fake profiles: If you encounter fake profiles, which are set up using someone else's personal information and photos, or pretending to be that person online, you should report them to the relevant social media provider: Reporting fake profiles on Facebook; Reporting fake profiles on LinkedIn; Reporting fake profiles on Twitter;Reporting fake profiles on Instagram. These fake accounts can be used to 'befriend' or communicate with you, your colleagues and friends to get personal information, ridicule, or damage reputations.