5 Ways You Can Protect Yourself From Being Harassed Online

Posted on November 1, 2016 in #NoPlace4Hate, Sci-Tech
Facebook logoEditor’s Note: With #NoPlace4Hate, Youth Ki Awaaz and Facebook have joined hands to help make the Internet a safer space for all. Watch this space for powerful stories of how young people are mobilising support and speaking out against online bullying.

By Saswati Chatterjee:

The Internet has become a powder keg of sorts. On the one hand, it’s drawing people together, making communities that never existed, and connecting the world in amazing ways. On the other hand, it’s becoming a mirror to the society, exposing its worst ills and threats – as it was for Kavya Khashnobish, a young girl, who was relentlessly trolled and bullied online for speaking her mind. Kavya fought back, but her story serves as a chilling reminder that the online space isn’t safe for everyone. In light of such incidents, there are certain things we can do to protect our safety online.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

1. Improve Your Security Settings

Facebook Security Settings

Several social media platforms have an option to alert you in case someone who’s unauthorised is accessing your account. All you need to do is opt for a ‘login approval’ code for your account, which will send a number to your phone (connected with your account) that will check if the person accessing the account is really you or not.

2. Keep Your Passwords Safe

Facebook Password Settings. For representation only.

This may sound like an easy one, but too many people keep their passwords written (usually on post-its), or strewn around their laptops, especially if they’re working in an office. The point is that no one should be able to access your information easily and sometimes going directly through your machine is the fastest. Consider saving it on your phone if you have a tendency to forget.

3. Report Content Which May Hurt People

Report Comments Which Might Hurt Someone

This may include content which is sharing someone’s personal details without their consent or is promoting racist/sexist/transphobic ideas. You can report the content a certain user is putting up if you feel it might be problematic or hurt anyone else. The best way to make the internet a safe space for everyone is to ensure that content that may harm someone has as limited a reach as possible.

4. Curate Your Audience

Facebook Share Options

This would mean checking who you share content with. For instance, limiting what you share with fewer people or groups, those who are closest to you, is an option. Several social media profiles allow you to do this, thus giving you the tools to control who sees what.

5. Block People

Block people who harass or bully you online.

This may sound like an aggressive move but the easiest way to be rid of people who are harassing and/or bullying you online is to block or remove them from your profile/wall/page. All social media platforms, from Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr, allow you to block users. Facebook has gone a step further with the launch of its new safety initiative, which helps you secure your account through a security and privacy check-up as well as offering information to parents/ guardians on what to do in case of online harassment or bullying. We often tend to ignore such guidelines, but going forward, it’s a good idea to get savvy.

While these simple steps are not meant to guarantee absolute safety, they ensure at least an additional layer of security. A staggering three billion people are using the internet today, and it’s important that we keep a track of those people who can actually see what we’re doing online. The internet will only be a safe place when we can trust that what we’re putting on it is not reaching people who are not meant to see it.


Image source: Carl Court/Getty Images