Reporting abuse on social media platforms

  • Objective(s): To share with participants some tips for denouncing online violence in social media platforms like facebook and twitter.
  • Length: 40 minutes
  • Format: Session
  • Skill level: Basic
  • Required knowledge:
    • None required
  • Related sessions/exercises:
  • Needed materials:
    • Projector and slides
    • Post its
    • Computer for every two participants (if possible)
  • Recommendations: This session is highly recommended for groups of women who have being harassed online or who are involved in online campaigning.

Leading the session

  1. Start the session by asking participants:

    • Do they know of any women’s collectives or women activists who have been harassed online?
    • If so, on which platform(s) did it happened?

    Ask them to offer examples of tactics they have seen used by those groups or individuals to address or counter online harassment, or tactics that they themselves have used. Have participants write these on post-it notes.

  2. Share some recommendations of basic practices for denouncing online violence against women that are commonly used, as well as any NGOs or collectives that can provide assistance in response to such harassment:

    • Facebook recommends flagging the exact comment or post, providing as much context as possible in the reporting process. Participants can check updates to this process here:
    • Blocking harassers will prevent them from sending friend/follow requests, starting a conversation or sending any messages, and seeing any updates posted to a user’s feed. Users are not notified when they’ve been blocked, but they may still notice that it has happened if they are suddenly no longer able to contact a target.
    • Take screenshots before blocking harassers on platforms to keep as documented evidence of abuse – once they are blocked, it becomes much more difficult to collect supporting evidence, which users may be asked to offer during an investigation into the incident (you may want to show participants how to take screenshots on their computers if they don’t know to do so already)
    • Twitter recommends that users who are the target of online harassment report the incident and keep a record of the case number for any follow up action. On Twitter it is possible to report an individual tweet as well as an entire profile.

    It is recommended to avoid clicking on any links that may be received in messages or other communication sent by harassers, as they could potentially lead to malware being installed on a user’s device.

  3. During this part of the session, you should also demonstrate to participants how they can block users and report profiles or posts on Facebook and Twitter, in addition to any other social media platforms that they frequently use. Make sure to research these before the training so you are up to date, as these processes unfortunately tend to change quite frequently (as do account privacy settings).

  4. If you would like to offer participants an opportunity for some hands-on practice, have them break off into small groups and look for pages or profiles that may be targets of online abuse or harassment - for example, they should try out documenting any posts or profiles on Facebook that are actively perpetrating such harassment, and then filing reports using the established process.