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Social Media And Apps

Cyberbullying and abuse on social media

When you are being cyberbullied or harassed online, it can be easy to feel helpless – but we want to give you back the power! In this section you will find lots of information about different social media platforms and apps, including what they can be used for, who uses them and advice on how to deal with problems such as cyberbullying, harassment and threatening behavior.

If you are being affected by any kind of online abuse or negativity, we can help. If you can’t find the information you need from the list of social media platforms (see the navigation area), check out our Cyberbullying and Online Abuse Help Center for practical tips and advice on using the internet safely. For more in-depth help and support, use our Global Support Service where you will be allocated a trained support advisor wherever you are in the world.

If you are a parent, be sure to visit our cyberbullying help for parents section to get all the information you need to protect your children and teens online.

Types of cyberbullying and abuse on social media

The term “cyberbullying” is generally used as an umbrella term for various different types of online abuse and harassment. There are many different ways that people can make your time online uncomfortable or even scary – we have listed some the most common forms of cyberbullying below. Follow the highlighted links for further information relating to each specific topic:

  • Harassment – When someone is being harassed on social media, they may receive continuous messages from one person or a group of people with the intention of causing embarrassment, distress or fear. Persistent harassers will continue to harass the victim even after having their social media accounts blocked, by setting up numerous anonymous or ‘fake’ identities so that they can simply move to the next account. There is legislation in place to protect people from on-going or long-term harassment in most parts of the world.
  • Revenge porn – When someone releases pornographic or sexually explicit images or videos of someone without their consent. Normally these images are distributed on websites dedicated to revenge porn or adult content but sometimes do make their way onto social media platforms while they are being promoted to cause maximum damage to their victim.
  • Doxing – When someone is being doxed, their personal information such as their home address, phone number or bank account details are distributed onto public websites and forums. Sometimes, the threat of doxing can be used to blackmail people into doing something they wouldn’t normally consider. Social media can be used to amplify the threat of the exposure.
  • Corporate or professional attacks – One of the most common ways for a corporate or professional attack to occur is for one person or a group of people to spread malicious lies about a company or professional on social media, with the purpose of reaching a global audience and damaging their reputation.
  • Cyberstalking – Cyberstalking is similar to harassment but is normally done by somebody that knows the victim. The act of cyberstalking is when an individual (most commonly someone that was once close to the victim, such as an ex-partner) will obsessively attempt to make contact with or try and gain information on the person they are stalking digitally. The stalker often creates new identities online to get close to the victim without their knowledge. They can also make anonymous threats through social media.

Cyberbullying Golden Rules

If you are suffering cyberbullying or abuse on social media we can help! Select the social media platform that you are experiencing the problems on from our navigation menu to access platform specific advice for dealing with abuse – as well as finding links to their abuse reporting tools. In the meantime, see below for some ‘Golden Rules’ for dealing with cyberbullying that are important to learn – regardless of the social media platform that you are using.

  • Don’t Retaliate – Resist the temptation to defend, justify or explain yourself. You don’t have to and it is exactly what a bully wants, a response. Use the tools available on the platform you are using to report, block, mute, filter or delete abusive users or content that you do not want to see.
  • Tell Someone – Talk to someone that you trust. This could be a close friend, family member, a teacher or a trusted adult that you know. Trying to deal with cyberbullying alone can be emotionally traumatic. It is important to get support so that you don’t become isolated or overwhelmed.
  • Privacy and Security – Check all your online accounts to ensure your security and privacy settings are tailored to your needs and are keeping you safe. You can choose who you want to interact with and what level of interaction you want with other internet users. Always keep any personal details private and secure.
  • Supporting Others – If a friend is being bullied online, get a message to them to let them know it is not their fault and that you are there to support them. Resist the initial temptation to jump in and defend them publicly as this may make things worse. Support your friend by asking them what they need and helping them to find a solution.
  • Save Evidence – If the problem continues, you might need to demonstrate ‘ongoing harassment’ for legal action to commence at a later date. There are existing anti-harassment laws in most parts of the world that can be applied much more easily if you can show the abuse has been ‘long-term’.

Statistics for cyberbullying on social media

In 2017 we conducted a survey asking 20,554 internet users in the U.S. and 21,098 internet users in the U.K. a number of questions relating to cyberbullying and online abuse when using social media. See below for a selection of notable findings from the survey – you can also download the full report to learn more about the study in the research area of this website.

  • Over 50% of all people surveyed in the U.S. (54.5%) and the U.K. (55.1%) indicated that they had witnessed the most digital abuse taking place on Facebook.
  • Less than 20% of all people surveyed in the U.S. (18.3%) and the U.K. (19.1%) indicated that they had seen abuse on Twitter.
  • Only 7% of people in both the U.S. and U.K. had seen online abuse on Instagram.
  • In the 18-24 age group, only 10% of U.S. and 9.2% of U.K. respondents witnessed abuse on Snapchat.
  • Over 50% of all people (45-54 age group) surveyed in the U.S. (57.4%) and the U.K. (56%) indicated that they had seen the most online abuse on Facebook. This was a 10x increase in the same demographic when compared to Instagram.