A Note on Language
In this toolkit, we will sometimes use the word woman/women and feminine pronouns for simplicity and to recognize the significant impact technology-facilitated violence has on women and girls. We recognize that TFGBV also impacts trans, non-binary, and Two-Spirit people. We hope that all people impacted by TFGBV will find these documents useful.
You deserve to be in a safe and healthy relationship, whether in person or online. If your partner is digitally abusive, know that their behaviour is not acceptable and could be illegal. Check out our tips below for staying safe on social networking sites like TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, and others.
- Only post things you want the public to see or know. Once it’s online, it’s no longer under your control.
- 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 out 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.
- Keep your passwords private – sharing passwords is not a requirement of being in a relationship.
- Don’t do or say anything online that 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.
- 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 Peace Bond.
- Report inappropriate behaviour to the site administrators.
- If you are leaving an unhealthy relationship, you can start by blocking, removing, or unfollowing your ex on social networking pages.
- We recommend you don’t use location check-ins on 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 requires 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 account every time you log off and reactivating it every time you log back on. This way, no one can post on your page, tag you, or see your content when you’re offline, but you still have all of your friends, wall posts, photos, etc. when you log back on.
- While it is inconvenient and may seem extreme, disabling your social networking page temporarily may be an option to stop continued abuse or harassment until you find an alternative safe option.
Your Friend’s 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 about 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.
Digital Dating Violence is part of a continuum of violence that can be both online and in-person. If you or someone you know is experiencing digital dating violence, you are not alone. Encourage them to chat with a trusted adult, connect with the Kids Help Phone to create a safety plan, or you can use sheltersafe.ca to find a shelter/transition house near you to discuss options and create a safety plan. You don’t need to stay in a shelter to access free, confidential services and support.