How to Handle Social Media Harassment

How to Handle Social Media Harassment

Social Media Harassment: A Growing Problem and How to Stop It

Social media has become an integral part of our lives, connecting us with people from all over the world and allowing us to share our thoughts, opinions, and experiences. However, social media also has a dark side: harassment. Online harassment, also known as cyberbullying, refers to the repeated or severe targeting of an individual or group through harmful behavior on the internet. It can take many forms, such as:

- Offensive name-calling
- Purposeful embarrassment
- Stalking
- Physical threats
- Sustained harassment
- Sexual harassment

According to a Pew Research Center survey, 41% of Americans have personally experienced some form of online harassment, and 25% have experienced more severe forms of harassment. Moreover, half of those who have been harassed online say they have been targeted because of their political views, which is a significant increase from three years ago. Other common reasons for online harassment include gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and physical appearance.

Online harassment can have serious consequences for the victims, such as:

- Psychological distress
- Anxiety
- Depression
- Low self-esteem
- Fear
- Isolation
- Loss of productivity
- Damage to reputation
- Physical harm

Online harassment can also affect the quality of online discourse, as it can stifle free expression, silence diverse voices, and intimidate experts and journalists.

How to Prevent and Respond to Social Media Harassment

If you are facing online harassment or know someone who is, you are not powerless. There are concrete steps you can take to protect yourself and others from online abuse. Here are some tips:

1) Identify the abuse

Figure out what is happening to you. Is it a mean-spirited critique? An insult-riddled comment? Or outright abuse containing slurs or threats? Online abuse is defined as the "repeated or severe targeting online of an individual or group through harmful behavior". If you are not sure whether something counts as online abuse, ask yourself these questions:

- Does it make you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?
- Does it interfere with your ability to participate online?
- Does it target you based on your identity or beliefs?
- Does it violate the terms of service or community guidelines of the platform?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are likely dealing with online abuse.

2) Document the abuse

Keep a record of the abusive messages or posts that you receive or see online. You can take screenshots, save links, or use tools like or Wayback Machine to capture web pages. Documenting the abuse can help you in several ways:

- It can provide evidence if you decide to report the abuse to the platform or the authorities.
- It can help you track the patterns and sources of the abuse.
- It can help you assess the severity and impact of the abuse.
- It can help you avoid engaging with the abuser or revisiting the abusive content.

3) Report the abuse

If you are experiencing online abuse on a social media platform, you can report it to the platform using their reporting tools or mechanisms. Each platform has its own policies and procedures for handling online abuse, so make sure you familiarize yourself with them before reporting. Reporting the abuse can help you in several ways:

- It can alert the platform to take action against the abuser or remove the abusive content.
- It can help you block or mute the abuser or limit their access to your account.
- It can help you access support or resources from the platform or other organizations.

4) Seek support

Online abuse can be emotionally draining and stressful. You do not have to deal with it alone. Seek support from your friends, family, colleagues, or other trusted people who can offer you emotional support, practical advice, or legal assistance. Seeking support can help you in several ways:

- It can help you cope with the negative effects of online abuse on your mental health and well-being.
- It can help you find allies and advocates who can stand up for you or amplify your voice online.
- It can help you connect with other survivors or experts who can share their experiences and insights.


Social media harassment is a serious and growing problem that affects many people online, especially those who express their views or identities. However, there are ways to prevent and respond to online abuse that can help you protect yourself and others from harm. By identifying, documenting, reporting, and seeking support for online abuse, you can reclaim your online space and enjoy the benefits of social media without fear.


(1) The State of Online Harassment | Pew Research Center.
(2) You’re Not Powerless in the Face of Online Harassment.
(3) How to Handle Social Media Harassment - Business News Daily.
(4) Social Media Harassment – Examples and Preventive Steps.
(5) Social Media Harassment: 4 Types You Should Know - Impactly.


How can we stop online abuse?

Working within the platform where the harassment took place is the first option available to respond to online abuse. Block: You can silence perpetrators on most social media sites by blocking their account(s), which will prevent them from viewing your profile or communicating with you in any way.

How can you help in preventing Internet addiction and cyberbullying?

What Can You Do to Help Prevent Cyberbullying? 1. Make the most of privacy settings. Investigate what measures you can take to keep content private on the websites you use. ... 2. Think before you post. Never forget that the internet is public. ... 3. Keep personal information personal.

What are the effects of online harassment?

For young adults, cyber-bullying can lead to self-harm, isolation and suicidal thoughts and ideation. It also makes a person fearful of their lives, if received persistent harassment. For the youth, the effects of cyber-bullying are higher than adolescents and adults.

Can you report social media harassment?

File a report with the police district where your business and home are located and include all documentation of the cyber-harassment or cyberstalking. If you have evidence of the perpetrator's identity, file a restraining order because you don't know when that person might take the harassment offline.

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