Racists, criminals, the obsessed, and those that are just plain malicious are allowed to enter your home every day, with your permission via the internet. These people can ruin your internet experience and your life. It doesn’t help that the internet is a nameless, faceless place where anyone can be anything they want. Predators, jerks, and cons seem to be waiting at every turn. If the internet was a city somewhere in America, it would be rated the most dangerous.
From identity theft, stalking, and acts of violence the internet has somehow become a tool for bullies, criminals, and haters. Even everyday people sometimes get upset, or might be having a bad day and their internet use can be deemed as inappropriate. The internet today is a place where anything goes and as a society, we need to decide where to draw the line. What ever happened to good manners, decent language, and punishment of criminals?
If you’re being threatened or harassed online it can make life unbearable. Although only a small percentage of online threats actually turn into real violence, it is a possibility. Tracking down these anonymous people is not easy but most online activity can be traced to a location or specific computer. If you feel seriously threatened by someone online it is best to call the police and seek legal help immediately. In some cases the harasser can be sued for defamation or libel.
It is possible for someone you know or even a stranger to smear your reputation on the internet. Not only will you end up looking bad online but it may result in you loosing your job or not being promoted, financial loss, mental stress, and you or someone close to you could become a target for physical violence. The harasser could be a coworker, an ex lover or friend, or just some mean stranger. If someone is bothering you online there are things you can do to stop them.
Of course, stopping online harassment and threats is easy if you have a face or a name but this is not always the case. The first thing you can do to stop the harassment is avoid websites that promote or allow violence, pornography, and racism. Sites like MySpace, Craigslist, and many others allow people to say and do anything they want. Although rude comments can sometimes be deleted, the perpetrator will just repost it somewhere else when they discover it has been taken down.
Often, online harassers will follow you from website to website, even if you change your user name. They may join groups and chat rooms that you join just so they can make comments. Online harassers will change their user names and email addresses just so they can contact you over and over again. Often, strangers that take to harassing or threatening someone online are playing out their alter-ego via the internet. They are most likely being mean because they can without fear of being caught or punished.
When the harasser is someone you know they may be able to cause significant damage. People that know you may post personal information about you online like photos, email addresses, phone numbers, and even your home address. This is completely inappropriate behavior, especially from adults and if it is happening to you report it immediately. If a persons actions online are harming you, you have the right to do something.
Faceless online attackers can be caught and punished. There is no reason to risk your reputation, job, or life. Online aggression can be anything from use of profanity, to making threats, logging into someone else’s accounts, and sharing secrets or spreading rumors. What you do online or what others do to you online can be viewed by anyone. If the actions are causing harm in anyway the perpetrator can be held liable.
If someone is harassing you online or making threats keep accurate records. Print pages that contain vulgar text, threatening emails, photos you did not want posted on the internet, rude and/or racist comments, and keep records of times and dates when you were harassed or threatened. If you have to go to the police or seek legal representation the records will only help support your case.
To protect yourself online avoid websites that allow violence, profanity, pornography, and any other inappropriate conduct. When using social networking sites like MySpace or Facebook, limit the amount of information you include on your page. Don’t post your address, phone number, date of birth, age, or sex in public forums or on other web pages. Even photos that you put online can be copied and altered by anonymous harassers.
If a person is impersonating you online you can always request the site remove the profile or comments. You may have to send several emails and maybe a phone call to get some things removed. Often pleading and begging a website to remove certain content is not easy and a lot of times it is never removed. Even if the offending material is taken down it may just be reposted in another category or somewhere else online.
If you’re being harassed via the internet you can do something. Report stalking, threats, and violence to authorities promptly. It is best to always confront your attacker about their actions online, from the beginning. Don’t let their behavior spiral out of control by doing nothing. When being harassed online, kindly ask the attacker not to contact you any further. Too often people think of the internet as a place where they can seek refuge from the real world and do whatever they want. It’s not fair for the honest, everyday people that use the internet to get work done, contact friends, and stay in touch with family. Your reputation doesn’t have to be ruined and you don’t have to put up with harassment.