This video follows the story of a person being harassed online. The trouble starts with mild language in a discussion forum and then escalates to more serious behavior over time. It teaches:
- How to recognize online harassment
- Common tactics of harassers
- What to do if you’re being harassed
- Why it’s important to save messages from harassers
- Whom to contact
Long before the internet, or even the telephone, some individuals harassed others. This could mean making threats, spreading rumors, physical intimidation or other tactics that cause fear, humiliation and distress. Harassment is never okay and today it’s taking on new forms thanks to the Internet. To understand how online harassment works, let’s look at an example.
Imagine that you are a member of an online discussion group. Every day or two, you log in and respond to questions and comments. You enjoy the interactions and have become used to debates and being challenged. It goes with the territory.
But recently, something changed. One of the members is singling you out and using language that isn’t as friendly as usual. You can’t seem to post anything without them responding to disagree or maybe even call you names. You’re concerned and wish they would stop, but you’re not sure it’s a problem.
Then, it gets worse. The person starts to spread rumors about you in the group discussions. They even make up quotes that you never wrote. In one instance, the person edits and shares a photo of you to look embarrassing. You’re not sure why they’re doing it, or how to stop them.
Over time, the situation escalates. The person starts to send you personal messages outside of the group discussions. These messages are sometimes vulgar and contain threats of violence. Your concern grows and you save the messages for future reference. This person has crossed a line.
Then, it escalates again. The person writes blog posts outside of the group discussions that are inflammatory and untrue. Some of the posts contain contact information and even home addresses. They also use stereotypes regarding race or gender to impact your reputation and even contact your employer to share lies about you. When you try to contact them, they ignore you, or respond with more threats. You feel terrorized and start to fear for your safety.
This is a classic case of online harassment and it’s not normal or okay. In fact, it can cause long lasting problems like depression, anxiety, loss of employment and more. At heart, online harassment is repeated behavior, focused on a specific person, with the goal of causing them fear of bodily harm or emotional distress.
Awareness and being able to recognize harassment is important and in many cases it may be against the law. If you are being harassed, remember that stopping it may be a team effort. Save all messages from the harasser and consider speaking with a lawyer or law enforcement. Look into the rules of the online space and talk to the moderators about your experience. If you are a minor, be sure to tell an adult.
By collecting evidence, working as a team, being aware of your rights and contacting the appropriate people, you may be able to prevent future problems.
This FAQ library was created by Eran Bucai. Eran is an online entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people find success building a profitable business online without the high ticket prices and without the marketing hype.
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