Have you spent any time at all on social media sites, in chat rooms, comment threads, discussion sites, or anywhere else that people congregate online? If so, there’s a good chance you’ve been subjected to some degree of online harassment, shaming, or cyberbullying. In this post, we’ll share some tips about how to deal with online shaming and harassment.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to, at the very least, minimize the amount of shaming or cyberbullying you have to deal with on the internet. That can range from modifying online web-surfing habits to taking proactive steps like learning how to remove personal information from Google searches.
Don’t Feed the Trolls
It’s an internet cliché but one of the more accurate, insightful, and important ones: Don’t feed the trolls. If you encounter a bully online who takes a specific interest in you, the worst thing you can do is engage, however tempting it may be or frustrating the bully is. Keep in mind that trolls are, virtually inevitably, angry and insecure people who glean satisfaction from the emotional responses of their targets. The angrier and more upset you get; the more satisfaction they get. If it helps, keep in mind that as tempted as you may be to insult them back, disengaging is going to frustrate them a whole lot more.
Remove Personal Information from Data Broker Sites
In addition to ignoring the trolls, opting out of having your information on data broker sites is an important step. Doing so means you will remove personal information from Google searches, should a troll try to find you. In case you’re unfamiliar with them, data brokers collect, store, and sell your private and (often very) personal information. But you can opt out of data broker sites. One of the best ways to do so is by contracting with a reputable service that has an impressive track record of successful consumer opt-outs. It’s also important to increase the security settings on your social media accounts, block bullies, and to erase old and unused social media profiles.
When someone begins an active campaign of cyberbullying or online shaming, it’s crucial to keep records. Take screenshots or otherwise record every message, image, or file they send to you, and record the date. Keeping records is particularly critical if the messages start turning into actual threats. The sort of person who is going to commit that fully to cyberbullying someone else is going to do whatever they can to pretend it never happened or otherwise blur the details if it comes to needing to confront them with that harassment.
Contact Site Operators and Authorities
If the harassment or shaming doesn’t let up, begins interfering with your life, or comes to include threats to the safety of you and your family, something more proactive may have to be done. Contact the site operators and administrators of whatever social media site or other internet site or forum the harassment is taking place on and report it. If they are posting humiliating, threatening, defamatory, or otherwise harmful material about you, request that the site removes it. Keep calm but be persistent. Send emails, call, whatever you have to do. And if actual threats of violence become an issue, alert local law enforcement and report it. Be sure to have your records of the harassment ready. You should also consider contacting the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), an FBI-linked organization that deals with internet harassment and threats.
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