Dealing with online harassment
Online harassment can take many forms, including abuses of tracking technology, non-consensual sharing of intimate images on aggregator websites, contacting those associated with the target to spread damaging info, and harassment on social media. Harassers use publicly available information as well as deceit and sometimes illegal methods to obtain the the information they share. Regardless of how the information was obtained, using it for harassment is wrong, and may be illegal--and it is never the victim's fault.
What to do if you are the target of online harassment
1. Support and help are available. You don't have to go through this alone. Please reach out: to friends, to SHARE, or to others you trust. You're not the first person this has happened to; we can talk through your options with you and help you figure out what next steps will be most helpful for you. Computer User Services can also give you helpful information and advise you on security measures. You may consider reporting to the college if the harasser is a Reed community member, or to law enforcement if you are being threatened (laws vary by jurisdiction). The college will help you make a report if you want to.
2. Preserve evidence. Take screen shots; save texts, emails, and phone messages. Even if you do not plan to go to the authorities or file a civil suit, the evidence may help you figure out where the information is coming from, and where else it may be going.
3. Consider keeping existing accounts (social media, phone, email) open and use them as "trap" accounts. If the harasser thinks they're reaching you, they'll be less likely to dig deeper to try to find your new ones. Open new accounts with a different name or number; avoid posting personal photos (facial recognition software is getting more accurate); and share the new contact info only with people you know personally and trust 100%.
4. Consider letting people close to you know (and consider adding employers, landlords, and schools to that list) that you are being harassed. Ask them to save any messages they receive about you (again, this may be useful as evidence).
5. Read up on steps you can take to reduce harm. The following is a list of resources that might be helpful. Each link is followed by the organization source, the author if known, and the date last updated. If you are aware of other resources that can be added to our list, please email us the information.
Tech Safety (SHARE program 2023)
How to Remove Yourself from People Search Directories (Techlicious, Elizabeth Harper, 2019)
Without My Consent (non-profit focusing on non-consensual image sharing, now part of Cyber Civil Rights Intiative, 2019; many of the materials are still current)
Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (non-profit focusing on non-consensual image sharing, 2020; some international resources)
Anti-Doxing Guide for Activists Facing Attacks (Medium.com, Equality Labs, 2017)