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Tackling online harassment

Online communication and social media has so many benefits. It is fast, easy and reliable, it helps us to keep in touch with friends and family whatever the time and wherever they may be in the world. It allows us access to news instantly, and gives us a vast amount of information at our fingertips.

Despite these benefits, there is also a negative side to online communication and social media. A recent government survey showed that 41% of people have experienced online harassment and a recent Universities UK Taskforce report has pointed to the ‘growing prevalence of online harassment’ among university students.

What is online harassment?

Online harassment is the use of networked technologies (such as a smartphone, computer or tablet) to direct offensive, abusive, insulting or threatening words or images at an individual and/or group, in ways that are likely to cause them alarm or distress, intentionally or otherwise. The most common places where online harassment occurs are:

  • Social media (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter)
  • SMS (Short Message Service) also known as Text Message sent through networked devices, such as a smartphone
  • Instant Message (via email, apps, and social media messaging features)
  • Email

Negative effects of online harassment

Those affected by online harassment may experience a range of physical, psychological and emotional effects, which can include:

  • Stress, anxiety and/or panic attacks
  • Loss of self-esteem
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Hypervigilance
  • Fear for safety

Dignity at Work and Study

The University of Liverpool is committed to fostering a safe and inclusive working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all members of our community are respected and tackling behaviours that disrespect these values.

This webpage provides information about university policies, disciplinary procedures and reporting systems that work to tackle, challenge and prevent online harassment, and offers advice on how to get support through student services, report an incident and take personal online safeguarding measures.