Did you know it is illegal to send harmful messages, deceitful information or maintain unwanted contact through phone or internet carriers?
Harassing emails, texts and online communication are patterns of unwanted behaviour, intended to cause ill-will towards the recipient.
Because online harassment is a growing issue, service providers give users options for setting high security on their accounts to block offensive and harmful content. It’s important to use these blocks to stamp out unwanted online communications.
What is online hurt and harassment?
Online hurt and harassment cover a wide range of instances between known parties as well as strangers and anonymous entities. It covers communications through social media platforms, email or messaging services, gaming platforms and mobile services.
Usually, these messages are intended to:
There can also be further demands for personal information, face-to-face meetings, explicit photos and money.
It’s important not to give in to these demands, instead, seek help from the police or a lawyer straight away.
How to block harmful online communications
Enhance your security: Set your user preferences so that you control who can see your details and contact you.
Anonymity is an online harasser’s best friend. Stick to trusted sites and platforms where users require a personal profile. They are less likely to act if their communications can be traced back to them.
Don’t respond: Don’t respond to anything that looks suspicious, unknown or untrustworthy. It’s important to give them as little to work with as possible.
Document: Take screenshots of any unwanted or harassing messages before you delete, block or mute as you may need to provide these to a lawyer if you take your case to court. Make sure the time and date are included.
If you already know the person causing harassment or the harassment has already begun, follow these steps to block and report as early as possible.
Block and Mute: You’ll find that carriers and platform providers will offer ways you can block an account or mute unwanted messages.
Blocking another user is the best avenue as the person involved will not be able to see your profile or communicate with you.
Muting means you can’t see a message, but it doesn’t remove it from the platform or prevent others from seeing it.
Report: Report violations to the social media platform. They can remove posts from the system as well as remove the user from the platform if a post violates their guidelines.
Where to go for help
If you are experiencing cyber harassment, stalking, or bullying, don’t stay silent. Talk to family and friends, your employer or school to get the support you need to regain your confidence.
If you feel physically threatened or unsafe, go to the police. You can also ask for help and advice on your rights from a legal representative who has experience with cases of Use Carriage Service To Menace, Harass Or Cause Offence.
It’s important to know that while online harm is common, it’s not something you have to put up with or take as a part of your internet and mobile use.