Combat Online Harrassment

Combating Online Harassment

Strategies Created by Womxn for Womxn

Recommendations drawn from online harassment survey of over 100 U.S. womxn journalists

Professional Strategies

  • Get in the Know. Familiarize yourself with your organization’s policies regarding online comments and social media.
  • Talk to your supervisor. Understand how they can support you. Be aware that this issue disproportionately impacts womxn of color.
  • Go Digital. Work with IT and social media professionals to implement solutions. Consider disabling comments or automatically removing comments with profanity.

Emotional Strategies

  • Share with others. Let co-workers, employers, family, and friends know what you’re dealing with.
  • We’re in this together. Find opportunities for in-person, community dialogue. Talking with others experiencing online harassment can be beneficial.
  • Laughter can be the best medicine. Using humor is an effective way to minimize the impact of online harassment.

Take Action

  • Do nothing. 80 percent of U.S. womxn journalists are not required to respond to comments on their organization’s website.
  • Report problematic comments and users to social media platforms.
  • Block problematic users.
  • Know where the line is. Familiarize yourself with the harassment laws in your state.
  • Stay Secure. Be aware of security in your building and at events.
  • Only respond to positive comments. Over 50 percent of comments received by womxn reporters are positive, including compliments, story tips, and leads. Most negative comments are general insults or work-related insults.

Online Safety

  • Thoughtfully consider which platforms to use professionally. Carefully decide what to make private versus public.
  • Protect family and friends. Consider what you post and where. Consider who you post photos and locations with (partners, kids).
  • Be mindful of tagging locations. Consider waiting until you are home to let followers know where you were.
  • Be deliberate in choosing your name. Consider using your first and middle name or a pseudonym.

Washington State Harassment Law

RCW 9A.46.020

(1) A person is guilty of harassment if:

(a) Without lawful authority, the person knowingly threatens

(i) To cause bodily injury immediately or in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or

(ii) To cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or

(iii) To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint; or

(iv) Maliciously to do any other act which is intended to substantially harm the person threatened or another with respect to his or her physical or mental health or safety; and

(b) The person by words or conduct places the person threatened in reasonable fear that the threat will be carried out. "Words or conduct" includes, in addition to any other form of communication or conduct, the sending of electronic communication.

Women's Media Center - Online Abuse 101

  • Learn more about tactics, legal issues, and impacts of online harassment.