You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship, whether in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know their behavior is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out our tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and others.
- Once you’ve posted something online, remember that it’s no longer under your control even if you meant it to be private. Only post things that you want the public to see or know.
- Be protective of your personal information. Your phone numbers and addresses enable people to contact you directly. Things like your birth date, the schools you attended, your employer and photos with landmarks may make it easier for someone to find where you live, hang out or go to school.
- Set boundaries and limits. Tell people not to post personal information, negative comments or check-ins about you on social media. Ask people not to post or tag pictures if you’re not comfortable with it.
- You can keep your passwords private — sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
- Don’t do or say anything online you wouldn’t in person. It may seem easier to express yourself when you are not face-to-face, but online communication can have real-life negative consequences.
ONLINE ABUSE OR HARASSMENT
- Don’t respond to harassing, abusive or inappropriate comments. It won’t make the person stop and it could get you in trouble or even put you in danger.
- Keep a record of all harassing messages, posts and comments in case you decide to tell the police or get a protection order.
- Always report inappropriate behavior to the site administrators.
LEAVING AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
- If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship, you can start by blocking your ex on Facebook and other social networking pages.
- We recommend you don’t check-in your location to online social networking sites or apps — you don’t want your ex or their friends tracking your movements.
- Adjust your privacy settings to reduce the amount of information that particular people can see on your page. Privacy settings on sites like Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it.
Remember, registering for some apps require you to change your privacy settings.
- Avoid posting private details on your friend’s pages. They may not have appropriate settings and doing so may allow someone to see your movements and location. The same goes for tagging yourself in pictures.
- Consider what is called a “super-logoff” — deactivating your Facebook account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on. This way, no one can post on your wall, tag you or see your content when you’re offline, but you still have all of your friends, wall posts and photos when you log back on.
- While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme, disabling you social networking page entirely may be your best option to stop continued abuse or harassment.
YOUR FRIENDS’ SAFETY
If your friend is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, be careful what you post about them. Pictures, locations, check-ins — even simple statements can be used to control or hurt them. If you’re unsure of what’s ok to post, get your friend’s permission before you click “Share.”
You don’t have to give up your devices or online presence if digital dating violence is happening to you. It’s possible to use technology safely. Talk to your local anti-violence worker about how.
©2019 BC Society of Transition Houses, Technology Safety Project.
Adapted from Loveisrespect at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, United States.