Sometimes being online can be a bit scary because you never know who is seeing your information. Harassment and abuse are becoming the norm online. At least 41% of American adults experience cyberbullying. Online harassment pertains to threatening messages, emails or websites posts. It can also be the spread of private information without consent. It is used to cause distress and fear towards the victim.
Studies show that women experience more severe forms of online harassment than men did. They are subject to higher rates of sexual harassment, stalking and other forms of abuse online. Internet harassment comes in many forms but they don’t always have to manifest in physical harm. Sometimes, the intention is to cause emotional stress and embarrassment towards the victim. With the constant use of social media, it’s easier for forms of cyberbullying to occur. This makes it a lot easier to get a hold of private information which sometimes without thinking about it, we decide to put it out for everyone to see.
Right now, victims can address their harassers legally but a lot of times it is invasive and expensive. When people take it to the police force, most of the time they’re not equipped to deal with these cases and they don’t have the right training. Wu, who is a computer programmer and game developer ended up receiving threats online by Gamergate, who were advocating for women’s removal in the game industry. She states that when she asks the police for help, they want to do what they can but there’s a clear lack of understanding on their part. They mistakenly thought that logging off of Twitter or Facebook would solve all the issues and stop those threats.
It gets tricky when online harassers hide behind anonymous accounts and even if they pursue these people, it’s still unlikely that they’ll actually be prosecuted.
Some tips that I use when I go online:
- Document everything you can. Keep it in your records. You never know when that evidence will be needed. If it is too disturbing, ask someone to keep it safe. When you do go to authorities, having more evidence is better than none at all.
- Personally, I don’t always let people use my laptop because I consider it to be my personal space. But if I do decide to let someone borrow it, I set up a separate account from the one I use regularly. So if someone wants to use my laptop, I log them into the other one. So they wouldn’t find out private information.
- Never reveal too much information about yourself online. Google chrome has an option for you to autofill information such as date of birth, address, and payment information. It’s recommended that you say no to that option.
- Use adblock and virus protection services. Malwares and many other hacking software people use have become very intelligent in getting through to your data with you just being online. There’s been a situation where I had an ad popup and it automatically loaded a program on my desktop and crashed my laptop.
- When you’re entering sensitive information, make sure there’s a lock at the top near the address bar. That means the website is secure and your information is protected.