Is Online Harassment Illegal?
Harassment over the Internet is becoming a common issue. According to a 2017 research study, over 41% of Americans report having been the victim of online cyberbullying. Harassing someone online and over the telephone is still considered bullying.
Social media platforms open doors to this kind of behavior where people can voice their opinions about photos and other types of content posted by users. Individuals can comment on things posted and engage in conversations, sometimes negative in nature until the user blocks them or otherwise attempts to end the connection.
Sometimes the harassment does stop there, the bully simply creates another account to continue their harassment until they are reported and their account banned again. These individuals often create different accounts to try and by-pass detection. This type of behavior may continue for months unless the site owners can identify the person creating these accounts and prevent them from creating new ones.
Cyberbullying or harassing behaviors can include:
● Sending unwanted messages on social media platforms, despite being asked to stop
● Posting private information of photos without permission
● Making posts of a threatening nature
● Violating restraining orders
Law enforcement takes this kind of behavior seriously as many adolescents have been driven to commit suicide through such actions. Always take threats seriously and don’t dismiss it as “kids being kids”. This is not merely childish behavior and it doesn’t just apply to kids, it applies to anyone of any age group. Kids, teens, and adults. There is no age limit to bullying.
It is considered harassment if the person initiates contact by phone, text message, instant message, computer system or computer network of a threatening nature or with intent to commit harm to another person. This covers all forms of electronic and in-person communication. Since a lot of people communicate through Facebook, Instagram, Skype, and other platforms, there are places to report illegal activity and get them to stop.
Anyone who receives these types of messages should report them to the authorities immediately. Law enforcement for harassment charges may vary from state to state so you will need to know the laws for your particular state.
What steps can victims take to protect themselves?
● There are steps you can take to protect yourself if you are the victim of a cyberbully.
● Use the tools provided on social media to block and limit users from contacting you.
● Review the rules for each site, and recognize when users are crossing the line and when you should block them.
● Report users who violate the rules to administrators. Every social media site has a button you can use to report unwanted contact or report illegal behavior.
● Document all communications with screenshots and keep a list of all account aliases the person uses when messaging you. They may be using several different accounts.
● Report any threats with explosives to the FBI. That is their territory.
● If the communication is from one student bullying another it should be reported to the
● school administration and let them take steps to prosecute the individual.
The best course of action is to be proactive and seek legal protection. Report cyberbullying to the police department and, if it includes contact over social media, inform site administrators as well. Every site has protections in place to stop unwanted contact. Cut off communications, block them, and report them to the authorities.
LegalShield provider law firm attorney knows the laws and can advise you in making decisions pertaining to your rights. They can help you navigate the system and protect yourself from online predators.