Five tips to deal with unwanted attention in the digital world.
We all spend so much time online these days connecting with people we know and sometimes people we don’t know. The digital world is so convenient and can be really fun. But what do you do if you are receiving unwanted attention?
First of all, what is unwanted attention? Well, it could be any type of unwanted message, image, video, voicemail or anything that leaves you feeling upset, distressed, threatened, harassed, embarrassed, humiliated or victimised.
Also, it might be the volume of things being sent to you that leaves you feeling uneasy. For example, if you are being bombarded with a large number of text messages every day.
You may receive unwanted attention via texts, emails, mobile phones, blog pages, websites, social media sites, online forums or apps.
Remember, anybody threatening to physically hurt you or damage your property is breaking the law.
If you feel like you are in immediate danger you must call 111 straight away. People who harass others online can leave an electronic trail, which can help with prosecuting them.
Five top tips
1. Be careful sharing contact details
To minimise the chance of unwanted attention online, be really careful who you give your contact details to. Do you really know the person? Is the person who they say they are?
2. Be careful who you reply to
Don’t reply to texts or messages from people you don’t know. Simply don’t engage with the person. Most often the sender will get bored and stop sending messages if they aren’t getting a reply.
3. Check your security settings
It’s really important to make sure your security settings are as high as they can be. For example, on Facebook, who can actually see your posts and photos? You might be surprised. Check, and double check.
4. Don’t delete offending content
If it reaches a point where police intervention in needed, the offending content may be used as evidence. Keep a record of when you receive the offending content and any details about who it’s from.
5. Contact your phone company/online content host
Phone companies in New Zealand have special agreements in place to help stop harassment. They can advise you on how to block a mobile or landline number. You can also make a complaint to the online site the person harassing you is using.
The Harmful Digital Communications Act
In 2015, the Harmful Digital Communications Act was introduced to New Zealand. The act targets digital communication such as social media, texting and other online messaging to prevent cyber stalking, bullying and harassment. A number of people have already been charged under the act and have faced fines and/or jail.