Social media refers to web-based networks that connect users for communication purposes, including the sharing of personal and professional information and interests. While social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest can be used for good, they can also be misused as tools to perpetrate technology-facilitated gender-based violence.

Common forms of violence through social media are:

  • Threats, abusive posts, or harassing messages through private message features
  • Posting information, videos, or photos without the person’s consent to cause harm or distress
  • Accessing a person’s account without permission by obtaining login and password details
  • Pretending to be someone else on social media to cause harm

Social Media Safety Planning Tips

Using the safety measures below may help reduce the risk of online abuse through social media.

  • Communicate via private or instant message rather than through a more public space such as a Twitter feed or your Facebook wall.
  • Consider creating a new profile using non-identifying information and an image such as a flower, a sports team logo, or another image as your profile picture.
  • Save all threats and harassment by taking screenshots or a video screen recording and submitting them to the police and/or your legal advocate.
  • Keep all records if you are harassed, impersonated, or threatened online. This documentation can serve as evidence in court.
  • Use the PrintScreen function or print directly from a website to document evidence of threats or harassment from a computer or laptop.
  • On Facebook and other social media sites, you can use the Download Your Info (DYI) tool to download the content and privacy settings of your account. This tool is one of the best ways for you to preserve evidence of abuse.
  • Deactivate your account temporarily without deleting your data. This strategy prevents users from viewing your information, tagging you in posts or pictures, and sending you private or instant messages.
  • Unfriending or blocking are two other options for dealing with someone who is bothering you. This means that the perpetrator won’t have access to your profiles. This does not prevent them from posting about you on their own or other people’s pages.

Most reputable social media sites also allow you to report abuse and have it removed. Don’t forget to document and preserve evidence of the abuse BEFORE you report it; otherwise, you may lose valuable evidence you need later.

Explore Privacy and Security Settings when Available

  • Check your privacy settings within social media networks to make sure they are set to the level of privacy you want. Keep in mind that even if you set your social network page to private, it doesn’t guarantee that your information is completely private.
  • Don’t forget that your friends and followers may be able to see your other friends’ posts and pages even if they are not friends with each other.
  • Be thoughtful about who’s on your friends list when you post or link to certain things.
  • Check your “active sessions” or “last logged in” information if you are worried someone else might be logged into your account.
  • Change your password and email address to something the perpetrator doesn’t know on a device that they don’t have access to.
  • Use security questions the perpetrator doesn’t know the answers to and consider setting up login approvals or two-step authentication on your accounts if it’s available.

Questions to Ask Before “Friending” Someone on Social Media Apps

  • Do I know this person’s true identity? If not, consider ignoring or declining the friendship request.
  • Does this person have a relationship with the person stalking or abusing me? If so, consider declining or limiting the friendship request. The perpetrator may be able to access your information or whereabouts through this person.
  • If you are already friends with the person, ask them if they created a new profile. In some cases, perpetrators create fake profiles pretending to be a friend of their victim.

Safe vs. Unsafe Social Media Posts

Are your social media posts revealing too much about your activities or your location? Consider each post on your social networking site.

  1. Does this post reveal my location?
  2. Does this post reveal my activities?
  3. Is this information what I want online?

I feel like the content in the grey boxes could just be added as bullet points, rather than having another layer of formatting/point?

Talk to your kids about their use of social media and gaming networks, such as who to friend, how to adjust their privacy settings, and how to be aware of their online activities.

A photo of a phone and on the phone is an image of a woman and her daughter. There is labelling pointing out that the house number can be seen in the photo and the street name can be seen in the captions of the photo. There's also a symbol indicating that this is not good.
This is an image of a phone with a photo on it of a woman and a child, no identifiying information is in the photo or caption thanks to the photo being zoomed in. There is also a check symbol that this is ideal.

Technology-Facilitated Gender-Based Violence (TFGBV) is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing TFGBV, you are not alone. You can use to find a shelter/transition house near you to discuss options and create a safety planYou don’t need to stay in a shelter to access free, confidential services and support.

Adapted for Canada with permission from WESNET’s Technology Safety project.  

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