Being the target of online abuse is not easy to deal with. Knowing the appropriate steps to take to address your situation can help you through the process.
When to report it?
We’ve all seen something on the Internet we disagree with or have received unwanted communication. Such behavior does not necessarily constitute online abuse. If you see or receive an @reply you don’t like, unfollow and end any communication with that user.
If the behavior continues, it is recommend that you block the user. Blocking will prevent that person from following, see your profile picture on their profile page or in their timeline, and their @replies or mentions will not show in your mentions tab (although these Tweets may still appear in search).
Abusive users often lose interest once they realize that you will not respond. If the user in question is a friend, try addressing the issue offline. If you have had a misunderstanding, it may be possible to clear the matter up face to face or with the help of a trusted individual.
If you continue receiving unwanted, targeted and continuous @replies on Twitter, and feel it constitutes online abuse, consider reporting the behavior to Twitter here.
Take threats seriously
If you believe you are in physical danger, contact the local law enforcement authorities who have the tools to address the issue.
If you decide to work with law enforcement, make sure to do the following:
- document the violent or abusive messages with print-outs or screenshots
- be as specific as possible about why you are concerned
- provide any context you have around who you believe might be involved, such as evidence of abusive behavior found on other websites
- provide any information regarding previous threats you may have received
You can report the content to Twitter here.
Reach out to the people you trust
When dealing with negative or hurtful interactions, it can help to turn to family and friends for support and advice. Oftentimes, talking with your relatives or a close friend may help you figure out how you want to handle the situation or let you express your feelings so you can move on. There are many online resources that can help, too:
- Stop Bullying | @stopbullyinggov
- National Crime Prevention Center on Cyberbullying
- Cyberbullying Research Center
- Connect Safely | @connectsafely
- UK's Safer Internet Centre | @UK_SIC
- Anti-Bullying Pro | @antibullyingpro
- National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children | @NSPCC
Trying to figure out how to help someone in such a situation can be daunting. This Twitter Support article offers some suggestions.
If you see a violent or abusive message directed at someone else, communicate your concern to the recipient and encourage them to contact Twitter and their local authorities.