Don’t feed the trolls
Bullying, harassment, stalking, abuse – you can call it whatever you want, but it all amounts to the same inappropriate treatment. And it’s becoming more prevalent online. A recent survey conducted by Data & Society reported that 72 percent of internet users have witnessed some form of cyberbullying. From that data, 36 percent have experienced harassment directed towards them. Though common targets include young people and women under age 30, anyone can be a victim of cyber abuse, including your business.
How do I prevent being bullied?
Even if you have never experienced online harassment, there are still measures to take to prevent it from happening. Though many social media platforms have been criticized for their lenient responses to bullying, thankfully more action is being taken to protect users. As a business, it is a good idea to hold regular communications meetings in order to clarify social media and online policies. The last thing you want is an employee going rogue and trying to take care of a cyberbully themselves.
You should not only address anonymous cyberbullying, but also how to handle potential abuses from other coworkers.
It is important to be familiar with each platform you have an account with. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn all have various privacy settings that you can adjust to a certain degree in order to ensure protection. All settings allow you to keep your account private, which prevents your profile from being viewed publicly.
Though a private profile may limit your views, you now have a block between yourself and potential abusers. In addition, both Instagram and Twitter have launched anti-harassment tools, allowing users to filter comments based on keywords. On Instagram, you can even turn off your comment thread completely. On LinkedIn, you can limit your invitation settings to prevent unwanted interactions.
What to do if you’re being harassed
Even if you have taken all of the preventable measures, a bully hiding behind their computer screen can still attack you online. As a business, you could take a financial hit from unjustified negative reviews or posts from your competitors. So what are your options?
Calmly address the abuser
Keep in mind that everyone is watching on the internet. If you receive a review that is completely false, you can report it to the site. However, it is unlikely that the review will be taken down. In the fight between customers and service provider, the customer wins out. Your first defense is to address the negativity head on. You can do this publicly, or by sending a private message. By politely addressing the concern, no matter how much you may want to tell the person to shove it, you have the upper hand in the public eye. Plus, they could even delete the review or revoke their comments.
Block the abuser
If the cyber-bullying is taking place via social media, you can block or unfriend the specific person. Again, you can adjust your privacy settings, preventing further interaction and limiting their availability to view your profile.
Take notice of harassing remarks or behavior so that you can warn others about this individual. Bullies generally are insecure, so by making their presence known, you take away their power. As a company, this could go beyond direct attacks. You may have an impostor imitating your business or even using trademarked material. Keep on the lookout and address how to interact with such abusers with your employees.
All social media platforms have the option to report harassing behavior and even posts about self-harm. In all of these cases, the best option is to speak out. More serious offenses should be reported to local authorities.
Unfortunately, online abuse is not something that will immediately disappear. However, you can educate yourself and employees on how to prevent harassment and deal with it in ways that do not add fuel to the fire.