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  • Larissa Martin

Why We Need To Talk About Online Harassment More

The Impact of Social Media Harassment

Though it often gets a bad rep, social media actually has a lot of benefits. It allows us to digitally connect with family and friends and keep up with news and current events around the world. It allows us to network, self promote, and find work through media sites.

However, have you ever been harassed or “trolled” online? Unfortunately, it’s happened to me on multiple occasions. Mostly it has been in the form of inappropriate messages from men through social media.

I’m certain I am not the only person these individuals are victimizing, so I immediately report profiles after receiving inappropriate messages. I want to be someone who stops the nasty cycle of people thinking they can treat others this way on the Internet. I’ve even made my pages private to avoid dealing with internet creeps. Still, some manage to get through.

What really happens when someone reports a page for inappropriate content? Is there a probationary period? Do they delete the reported accounts, or just make them invisible to me? Social media thrives on large numbers of users, so I often doubt they would risk these numbers going down by deleting accounts.

How We Can Actively Stop Online Harassment

We need strong consequences for social media harassment because I am not the only person who has received gross and inappropriate messages. Social media sites should have rules in place for people using social media inappropriately. They should monitor interactions more closely and create safety teams to run regular audits for fraud and harassment. These branches should notate and weed out red flag profiles that should not be featured on their site.

Not only would prioritizing safety help users feel more at ease, but it would benefit social media companies in the long run. We all deserve to feel safe when using social media. By being proactive, sites could gain lots of positive feedback and actually increase their user base.

In their current policy, Instagram suggests how to address abuse and harassment but not where to report it.

I have considered not using social media all together for a bit of time just to avoid additional harassment. These inappropriate messages physically sicken me, and no one should ever have these experiences. Then again, by pulling the plug on social media, I am simply letting the trolls and creeps win. Instead, I hope to give a voice to men and women who may have been too ashamed to bring up the injustices they have experienced online. I hope that sharing my personal story helps others find the courage to come forward. If enough people share their experiences, we might finally have a catalyst for change, prompting social media platforms to change their tune.

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