If you're a victim of cyberbullying, it's essential to preserve any evidence you come across. It can be normal to want to remove the content straight away, but collecting evidence may help you in the long run in removing the content and any legal issues you may face.
Cyberbullying can happen to anyone at any time and you should always be aware of what is happening online. A cyberbullying can be a complete stranger or even someone that you know. Being bullied online can look like an unkind message through a social networking site, e-mail, or university message forum. It can also look like having photos or videos made or sent to try and embarrass you, having rumours spread about you or having fake profiles created pretending to be you.
Cyberbullying can make an individual feel many emotions that are hard to process. It can lead to individuals feeling frightened, upset, angry, stressed or even ashamed. In addition, people can feel hopeless, alone or guilty. It's important to confide in someone you trust if you're feeling any of these feelings – or even anything else. You're not alone and can be protected if you're feeling unsafe.
The eSafety Commissioner has developed resources and tools to support people who need to successfully collect evidence when they're victims of cyberbullying. If you've experienced severe or harmful abuse online, you can report it to the police and take legal action if you'd like to. By collecting evidence, you will have something to show the police and court system, and it can also help prevent the content from being shared in the future.
There are a few things to keep in mind when collecting evidence. Considerations include
Recording the time and date you collect any evidence
Taking screenshots of any text or images
Taking screen recordings of videos
Keeping a record of URL's, webpages and social media services where things have been shared or posted
Keeping a record of usernames and the people who have shared or posted abusive material
There's other important information to keep a record of, which can help provide enough evidence to take action. Considerations include
The duration of abuse. How long has cyberbullying being happening? Is it a once-off, weekly or every few months?
The intensity. Have things gotten worse or more demanding over time?
The relationship you have with the cyberbully. Do you know the person bullying you? What's your relationship with them? Or do you have no idea who it is?
The impact. How has cyberbullying affected you? Do you feel safe? Nervous? Do you need support?
The action you've taken. Have you tried anything to stop the cyberbullying? Have you blocked or reported any previous incidences? Have you reported fake accounts?
If you need support or counselling regarding anything you've read or thought about from reading this today, click here to find supports you can connect with.
If you or someone you know is at risk or immediate harm, call 000 or Policelink on 131 444 for non-life-threatening issues. If you are having thoughts about self-harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
eSafey Commissioner. (2019). Collect Evidence. https://www.esafety.gov.au/key-issues/how-to/collect-evidence
Owaida, A. (2020). Cyberbullying: Adults can be victims too. https://www.welivesecurity.com/2020/06/19/cyberbullying-adults-can-be-victims-too/
Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko