Monday, February 6th, 2017 by Taryn Adams
What is Safer Internet Day?
The internet is a big part of our lives and everyone has a right to feel safe online. Safer Internet Day is held annually to promote the safe and respectful use of digital technology and to take a stand against cyberbullying. To make the date easy to remember, it’s held on the 2nd day of the 2nd week of the 2nd month every year.
Social media can reveal a lot about our lives to the digital world. Most sites want to know all kinds of personally identifying information about you, and unfortunately some people might use this information to bully others.
Our Data Protection Day article outlined some tips for keeping your personal information safe. Keeping on the topic of creating a ‘safer internet’, we’ve put together some advice on steps you can take if someone’s bullying you online.
1. Stay calm and talk to friends or family
The first thing to do is stay calm… at least online. It may be tempting to retaliate, but bullies just love to know that they’ve got under your skin. You might also be considering deleting your account, however this can have unintended side effects. For example, the bully might create a new account to impersonate you, using your former username. Instead, seek out family or close friends that make you feel safe and supported. They can give you the support you need and help you to address the bullying. Bullying can make you feel unloved and alone, so if you see a friend being bullied, reach out and let them know you’re there for them.
If you’re a parent, be aware that your child might not be comfortable talking to you. They might want to handle it themselves, or they could be afraid that you’ll cause a scene, or stop them using the internet. If your child talks to you, listen calmly, and let them know their feelings are normal. Keep an eye on their mood, and make sure they are eating and sleeping well.
2. Collect evidence about the bullying
Next, make some records of the bullying. Take screenshots of the bully’s posts, and mark them with the date, time, and screen name of the person who posted it (even if it’s a fake name). If they posted photos or videos, download those as well – they may have hidden information (metadata) that might be helpful. Save everything to a folder. Consider making a spreadsheet with fields like what the bully did, the date it happened, when you found out about it, their screen name, where you put your evidence, and any actions you took with the website involved. You’ll need all this information later, especially if you need to report the bullying.
3. Lock your account(s) down and review your privacy settings
Once you’ve collected your evidence, feel free to block your bullies. Don’t be afraid to be heavy-handed: you’ll feel better if you get rid of people that make you uncomfortable. One of the easiest ways to stay safe online is simply to be careful about what you share. Depending on what’s happening, you might want to check the privacy settings on your social accounts. You can also make sure you remove any personally identifying information such as your phone number, address, location, date of birth, or private photographs from the view of people you don’t trust. Just to be sure, test your settings by logging out and viewing your profile to see what’s visible, or ask a friend to help you test. If there’s more than one bully, or people you don’t trust are viewing your account, it might be time to make your account completely private.
4. Report the bullying
Depending on how serious it is, you may want to report the bullying. Most social media sites have a way to report users or posts, but they’ll want details. This is where all the evidence you’ve collected will come in handy. If your bully posted private messages, photos, or videos, you can also ask for these to be removed. If someone is using images or videos that you created against you, that means that you own the copyright and you can escalate to a DMCA takedown notice if necessary. If you are a minor (under 18) make sure you let them know when you ask for photos to be removed.
Cyberbullying directed at minors can be reported to the Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner, who can also help you get cyberbullying material removed. Adults can report incidents to the police, or to the ACORN – the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network.
Internet safety can span from protecting your personal details to staying clear from bullies. Take these helpful hints and promote the safe, respectful use of the internet each day.