FYI, In Focus 3rd August, 2016

How do we deal with online harassment on social media?.

A lot of people are leaving social media because of the increasing incidents of online abuse and harassment. We love the social media and the exciting potential that platforms such as Facebook, twitter and instagram hold. We have no intention of leaving. We are also against the do’s and dont’s that come our way to be ‘safe’.

Not posting certain kind of pictures or simply living in paranoia about everything we post on the social media is not the solution to online harassment. THIS is one thing we are certain of. All that it ends up perpetuating is victim blaming. Having said this, it is also essential to know how to deal with online abuse/harassment. We thought we will list a few ways through which we can deal with  this issue on three of our favourite social media platforms.

Let’s start with our favorite bird, Twitter!

  1. Mute the user – Some people are just plain annoying and it would be nice to just not see any activity that they do! Guess what? The mute feature on twitter lets you do this.This feature enables you to hide the tweets which are problematic without the other person getting notified about the same. The more icon below the tweet is where you can find this option.
  2. Report Abusive Content – If a tweet or multiple tweets are abusive, report them! Why let go when there are ways of holding the culprits accountable? All you have to do is, go to the tweet you want to report, click on the more option and then choose report. You have to give twitter a reason for reporting the tweet and then submit your report. Post that twitter will review your report and take action accordingly.
  3. Block the user – This feature will make sure that the blocked account cannot contact you, see your tweets or follow you. The other person does not get notified that he/she has been blocked, but can probably figure it out when he/she cannot view your profile. But, well, extreme actions call for extreme measures!

Next up is our beloved Facebook!

  1. Unfollow – You can go to the concerned person’s timeline and unfollow them. This will make sure you don’t see posts from the person!
  2. Unfriend someone – If a friend is not so friendly anymore, this is the feature that lets your break the connection! You can do this by going to the person’s timeline and click the icon on the right side of their timeline and select “Unfriend.” And ta-da! Dost dost na raha.
  3. Block or report abusive content – When you block someone, the two of you will no longer be able to see each other’s timelines or find each other’s timelines in search results. You can go to your privacy settings, use the report/block option or use the report link associated with the message in your inbox or any of the content the other person posts. After we report any content, facebook investigates if the content is in violation of any of the facebook terms and then takes action accordingly.

The last platform is the picture perfect Instagram!

  1. Block and ignore – This feature enables you to end any unwanted communication. It will prevent that person from following you or searching for your profile.
  2. Report a violation – Instagram too has a set of community guidelines and terms. If you’re experiencing abuse, if a hate account has been created or you are receiving abusive comments, you can report the account to Instagram directly for review. Providing maximum details will facilitate instagram to conduct a quick review and take the necessary action.

Also, on all these platforms, you can seek support from your friends who can report certain content or a user as abusive on your behalf.

As we end this post, the last point is something that is common to all these platforms and is a powerful way to strike back!

Name and shame – It’s not our voice that should be silenced by the abuse and harassment we are subjected to. Name and shame the abuser/harasser. One way of doing is that you could take screenshots and publicly share and shame them. This is a good way of documenting the abuse/harassment and taking action against the perpetrator. If they did not care about respecting boundaries or being sensitive, why should we?

Here are a list of resources which could be helpful –


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