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Is online harassment making your workplace uncomfortable?

There are various kinds of online harassment, but any one of them can make your workday miserable.

Since 2004, when the first case of cyber harassment went to court, such incidents have increased, and men and women tend to have different experiences.

What it means

According to Pew Research, online harassment can fall into six categories:

  • Efforts to embarrass someone
  • Name-calling
  • Physical threats
  • Harassment that continues for a sustained period
  • Sexual harassment
  • Cyberstalking

Studies show that men experience online harassment slightly more often than women. They are more likely to be targets for name-calling and physical threats, but women experience more severe forms of online issues, such as sexual harassment and stalking.

The court case

The first case of online harassment settled in federal court when a 38-year-old man received a guilty verdict for Use of a Telecommunications Device with Intent to Annoy, Abuse, Threaten or Harass. The device mentioned was the internet. The crime involved the uninvited, obscene emails he sent anonymously to a former girlfriend who eventually figured out who the sender was and contacted police.

Shutting down accounts

Because so many people manage their lives online today, cyber harassment has only increased. A poll taken by Rad Campaign indicates that at least a quarter of the American public has experienced some form of online harassment, including physical threats. Those targeted the most are internet users under the age of 35. Fortunately, coordination between social media networks and law enforcement agencies has improved. The accounts of offenders are being shut down and efforts are being made to identify the owners of those accounts.

What to do

If you are receiving emails or text messages that are frightening you or making you uncomfortable at work, report the incidents. Keep a record of the date and time of the message, such as a screenshot, and make hard copies that you can provide to the authorities. You have a right to work in a comfortable environment, and you can provide evidence of online harassment so that an investigation can go forward.

 

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