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About online abuse and harassment

What is online abuse and harassment? 

Online abuse and harassment is the use of technology and social networking sites to direct offensive, abusive, insulting or threatening words, emojis, or images at an individual and/or group, in ways that are likely to cause them harm or distress, intentionally or otherwise. Examples of irresponsible or abusive social media use can include:  

  • Making or sharing sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, transphobic  or other inflammatory or derogatory comments or memes. This can also be considered a hate crime if used to incite violence.
  • Deliberately provoking arguments or upsetting others by trolling them; 
  • Making derogatory comments, even when considered jokes or ‘banter’; 
    • Flaming others – Flaming is the act of posting or sending offensive messages on online discussion forums, or sent via e-mail or instant messaging programs in order to get a response.
  • Making defamatory remarks about another person that causes serious harm to them; 
  • Sharing private information about someone which is sensitive or likely to embarrass them; 
    • Doxxing, to publish private or identifying information about someone typically with malicious intent for others to pile on and attack or abuse the individual
    • Sharing sexually explicit material without consent; 
  • Harassing or stalking someone online;
  • Using anonymous sites or profiles to engage in any of the behaviors above.
  • posting videos or live streaming bullying
  • sending abusive or threatening messages
  • Making or circulating allegations, rumours, or gossip about other people; 

Those affected by online harassment may experience a range of negative physical, psychological and emotional effects, which can include stress, anxiety and/or panic attacks and feeling that their physical safety is threatened. For you, this may pop up and impact future study, employment and progression opportunities.