Consultation For Your Reputation

Harassment on Social Media and What You Can Do About It

On Behalf of | May 27, 2024 | Cyberbullying |

According to a recent survey performed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) , online hate and harassment is on the rise. In fact, last year, more than half of all Americans reported experiencing online hate and harassment at some point in their lives, a number that is up from 40% in 2022. Of the people who reported experiencing online harassment, 33% were adults and 51% were teens.

Much of this online harassment takes place on social media, which may come as no surprise to those who spent time on these platforms.

Social Media Platforms With The Most Hate Speech

Of all the popular social media platforms, Facebook is where online harassment occurs the most, though attacks have been steadily decreasing on this platform according to the ADL survey. A worrying trend, however, is that there has been a recent increase of harassment on TikTok, Twitter (X), Reddit, and Instagram.

At-risk Groups

Though virtually anyone can become a target of online hate and harassment, certain groups are at higher risk, including LGBTQ people and marginalized communities of color. Transgender youth have felt especially vulnerable in recent years, likely due to an influx of bills that have been introduced regarding the LGBTQ population and specifically impacting transgender people.

Types Of Social Media Harassment

On social media, there are four main types to be aware of:

    • Concern Trolling is where a person pretends to support an individual or group but then makes damaging or insulting remarks disguised as constructive criticism. The goal of the concern troll is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the victim and others.
    • Cyberstalking refers to using abusive behaviors online over an extended period of time. It may include threats to murder, harm, or terrorize the victim. In the U.S., cyberstalking is a federal offense.
    • Cyberbullying refers to several types of online harassment and is done to threaten, harass, embarrass, or target another person.
    • Cyber-Mob Violence (Dogpiling): involves a large group of abusers who use accusations, insults, obscenities, and other abusive methods in order to assault a victim. This type of harassment is commonly seen on social media platforms when someone voices their political opinions or thoughts on hot button topics.

What Can Be Done About Social Media Harassment?

Each state has its own laws regarding online and social media harassment. This means that victims can often pursue legal action if they so choose. For parents of children or teens who use social media, it’s recommended to regularly check in with them regarding this issue. This is especially important since teens tend to experience more social media harassment than do adults.

If you or your child have been the victim of social media harassment, it’s critical that you document all instances of harassment with screenshots and include dates and times, if possible. All of this can be used as evidence in a court of law. You can confront the harasser, asking them to stop, but often times this may not achieve the desired outcome.

If the harassment continues, consulting with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with online defamation and social media harassment is often the best option, as they may be able to help put a stop to this behavior once and for all.