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Sometimes people feel that they can hide behind a screen and say or do harmful things to others online. This is known as online bullying, or cyberbullying, and is never okay.
Online bullying can be experienced in many forms, such as:
Spreading rumours about other people online, posting unkind photos of others, tagging other people in negative posts/photos or commenting nasty things on someone’s posts/photos/timeline are all forms of online bullying that are used to humiliate, threaten, or blackmail people.
Using social media to send threats, or to coerce or manipulate someone into doing something, often in return for something else (e.g. if you send me a naked photo, I won’t tell everyone else your secret).
Someone shares intimate photos or video content of someone else without their consent. This is sometimes called revenge porn or sextortion. Image-based abuse also includes receiving unwanted nudes from other people.
This involves online communications that encourage people to self-harm or commit suicide.
A ‘catfish’ is someone who is pretending to be someone else online. A catfish may create a fake profile/s to bully, harass or stalk other people online. They may try to get people to send them nudes, they may try to scam people into giving them money or personal details, or they may try to get another person into trouble.
Online bullying can involve a one-off event or can repeat over time. Either way, it should always be treated as something serious. In many cases, online bullying is a criminal offence and so it helps to report it.
You never have to deal with experiences of online bullying alone. There is lots of great support out there. Youthline and Netsafe are two organisations that can help: