Online harassment - read more
About the phenomenon in general:
Women are more likely to be harrassed online than men. Harrassment targeted to women is also more sexually loaded.
Internet trolls and haters are networked. Many of them are using multiple accounts. Thus, the total amount of harrassment comes from few accounts.
Harassment aims at silencing. Harassment is not targeted so much to individuals as such but individuals representing groups, like women, minorities, or activists. Politically saying it is targeted to the oppressed groups.
Anybody can become a target for online harrasment. Mostly the harassment is only short term, but some are harassed long term.
The tactics the harassers commonly use:
- Black PR: Spreading rumours and false information about the target in order to harm reputation.
- Doxxing: Disseminating personal information about the target.
- Serial complaints: Official channels used to make complaints and reports about the target, for example to employer.
- Troll calls: Calling harassing phone calls.
- Filming and streaming video: Harassers show up and film the target with mobile phones, maybe streaming the content to internet.
- Dogwhistling: Using coded or suggestive language inciting supporters to attack the target.
- Image misrepresentation: Using photos to harass and abuse the target, includes also revenge porn and deepfakes.
The information used in harassing can be classified into three categories:
- Misinformation: False information spread without intention to mislead.
- Disinformation: False information spread in order to make harm.
- Malinformation: True information spread in order to make harm.
How to react against harassment in internet:
- Turn off notifications, choose when you react
- Lock troll accounts
- Save screen shots, pages, files, metadata is important in possible investigation
- If harassment is connected to work the work place should give help to employee, also unions or freedom of speech associations can give help
- Ask help from a colleague or expert
- Ask a trusted person take care of your social media accounts for a while
Tips to improve technical security:
- Make home address secret.
- Check out what information internet provides about you and seek to remove excessive information.
- Use encrypted messaging.
- Use secure passwords.
- Store your passwords in an store software.
- Use twho factor authentication in your social media accaunts.
- Check out your privacy settings and third party apps in you social media accounts.
- Make sure your communication lines are safe, use VPN which masks your location.
- Use Tor Browser.
Coping with stress:
Harassment always causes stress. The stress may lead to post traumatic stress disorder and psychic problems. Talk to friends, peers and experts. It is regocnized that peer to peer support is very effective in coping with anxieties caused by harassment.
If you become harassed, try to distantiate your personality from the object of harassment. It is not you individually that is harassed, but something you represent (womanhood, minority, activism).
What you can do to protect others:
Victims should be defended. Many times victims feel that they are alone. Do not treat harassment with indifference.
Help in gathering information and doing a criminal complaint.
Harassers react to their actions being addressed withdrawing from harassing. Particularly effective is if the intervener is from their own reference group, like white male.