Below are some instructions about how to minimize the possibility of online harassment. If you are currently being harassed online or you feel your safety is being threatened, please contact campus public safety or local police for guidance.
Online harassment can be a risk of engaging in online communities or social media. In some cases, harassers seek out more information about individuals to increase the harassment or to seek to engage in the real world. “Doxxing,” as it is frequently called, is the act of gathering someone's personal information and revealing it to the public, usually in a demeaning or malicious way. This can be done in a variety of ways including, but not limited to, public humiliation, online harassment, stalking and possible identity theft.
Many positions in academia promote a public presence and encourage posting about your job on social media. Given the risk of online harassment, when integrating social media with your job we recommend you be extra careful and attentive about posting personally identifiable information. Below are some precautions you can consider taking to decrease the chances of online harassment.
Steps to prevent online harassment:
- Search yourself (5-10 min.). See what information is out there about yourself and determine what info you may want removed, versus what is reasonable to remain public. Malicious actors can go to great depths to find out everything they can about you, so be sure to be as thorough as possible.
- Be careful what you post or share online. Some public records (like property ownership, tax records, and voter registration rolls) may be out of your control, but you have to power to control what and where you post. Personal information can be used against you in a malicious manner, so be careful when posting private data. As mentioned, if you use social media as part of your professional practice, be aware that posts on a platform you can not control may not be able to be deleted later.
- Update Social Media privacy settings (10 min/ site). Online harassment often comes through social media platforms. To help prevent this, try adjusting your privacy settings to decrease the potential for harassment.
- Overall guide:
- More Detailed Social Media Guides:
- Overall guide:
- Remove yourself from data broker sites (5-30 min. per site). Data brokers collect your data from various websites/anywhere they can find it and then sell the information they find. It is important to remove any data you can find from these brokers to ensure your information is safe and kept within your scope. The easiest and quickest way to do this is to Google yourself and see what data broker websites poses information about yourself that you didn’t know. Go through these websites and opt out of their “service”. If you need help opting out, you can contact email@example.com.
- Change your passwords (5-15 min.). If you suspect one or more of your accounts have been compromised (banking information, email, social media, etc.) you should change your passwords on all of your accounts. Davidson has recommendations for strong passwords posted here. We also strongly encourage you to use a different password for each site. A simple and convenient way of doing this would be to use a password manager, such as LastPass, to safely secure your accounts.
- Enroll in two-factor authentication to protect your accounts (20-30 min.). This step will prevent malicious actors from accessing your accounts even if they have your username and password. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to gain access to a multi-factor authentication app, Duo.
- Limit granting third-party applications permissions when connecting to social media sites. Third party applications who ask to use your social media information can accumulate this information and use it however they like, including selling it to data brokers.
If you have more questions or concerns please view the further resources provided below or email email@example.com.
- Brief pdf guide from Homeland Security on how to mitigate online harassment.
- An extensive guide on preventing and protecting against doxxing.
- Provides various resources regarding online harassment.
- Blog style guide to online harassment prevention.
- Provides tips and precautions to locking down your digital identity.
- Online harassment guide from a first-hand victim.
- First-hand victim tells her story about online harassment.