What can you do about online harassment?
If you have not spoken out about cyberbullying, today is a great day to do so.
June 15, 2018, is designated as Stop Cyberbullying Day, an internationally recognized day of awareness and activities founded by The Cybersmile Foundation in 2012. It takes place the third Friday in June each year.
Stop Cyberbullying Day encourages people around the world to show their commitment toward an inclusive, diverse and welcoming online environment for all – without fear of personal threats, harassment or abuse. The hashtag #STOPCYBERBULLYINGDAY is used on social media to show support and to help spread the word.
At Digital Forensics Corp., we help people cope with online harassment all the time. We help clients identify anonymous online bullies, document the harassment and seek legal remedies.
Anonymous bullies have myriad ways to harass their victims. They insult. They post embarrassing or damning photos online. They damage individuals, young and old, or go after businesses. They even set up fake social media profiles and post horrible things under their victims’ names. And they seldom let up once they start.
In one instance, someone set up a fake Facebook account using a boy’s name and photo, then started posting hateful insults and racial remarks utilizing his name and likeness. In such cases, DFC can document all the harassment, and our legal team will help facilitate the legal process to contact Facebook and compel them to identify the anonymous poster. The end result is obtaining a subpoena and gathering pivotal evidence to provide the client with sufficient ammunition to take legal action against what was originally an anonymous harasser.
In another case, a young athlete received anonymous messages, calling her fat and telling her she should kill herself. The platform for the harassment encouraged users to provide “honest feedback from your employees and your friends in a private manner.” People can send you feedback, but you don’t know who it is coming from. And that opens the door for some very nasty stuff.
In this case, the harassment spread to other social media. The girl went to the police but was told they could not help. Police departments typically do not have cybercrime investigation units or people on staff able to investigate such crimes.
Digital Forensics Corp. was able to document the harassment thoroughly and give the client evidence she could use to take action.
What can you do if you are a victim of cyberbullying?
If you or someone you know is subjected to online harassment, here are some steps you can take:
- Record the incidents: Get screen capture images of the harassing behavior, including the harassing account’s username, photos and background images. Record the time and date of the incident. Harassers often shut down anonymous accounts in an attempt to avoid being caught, then set up another account to continue harassing people. Documenting such things through screen captures before an account vanishes can help you build a case later.
- Get help: Resources available at StopBullying.gov include links to help you find mental health counseling, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and tips for seeking action from school officials. You also can find resources at StopCyberbullyingDay.org.
- Respond quickly: Sometimes one or two harassing incidents a month suddenly escalate to dozens or more a day. Don’t assume it will go away on its own. Grab screen images of the harassment right away, along with all the information about the account involved that you can, before that evidence disappears.
- Take action: A digital investigation can document the evidence, identify the IP address used by a bully and provide evidence to help you file a complaint or subpoena the bully’s internet service provider to identify the culprit or seek other legal remedies. Digital Forensics Corp., 1-800-849-6515, has helped many people deal with cyberbullies.
One other thing you can do: Remember that bullies thrive when others fail to act or speak out. Use your voice, and the hashtag #STOPCYBERBULLYINGDAY, to speak out against the bullies and to let those who are being harassed realize they are not alone.
DIGITAL FORENSICS CORP. SERVICES: Click here to find out some of the things we can do to help.
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