Cyberbullying: what to do and how to react?

Cyber ​​harassment
Cyber ​​harassment

Dernière mise à jour: 20 mai 2024

In recent years, we have seen a new phenomenon democratize on the internet, that of cyber harassment. Indeed, behind the anonymity offered on the net, some take the opportunity to reign terror.

The problem is that very often, when we are victim of cyberstalking, We do not really know how to react, nor even what are our rights. So, in this article, we are going to help you.

Indeed, we will first give you a precise definition of what this cyberharassment is and then we will describe to you all the actions you can take to stop it.

What is cyberstalking?

As we have just said, cyberbullying is on the rise right now, but it is still sometimes difficult for some to see a clear and precise definition. This is why we are going to start by clearly defining for you what this cyberstalking is.

Defining harassment

As you can imagine, cyberstalking is quite simply harassment that will take place in a virtual universe, here the internet. We will therefore start by looking at the definition of harassment.

This harassment is quite simple to recognize since there are only three main areas:

  • Le premier, it is quite simply that of violence. Please note, we are not only talking about physical violence here, verbal violence is taken into account.
  • The second point what characterizes this harassment is the repetitiveness of this violence. A person who insults you once will not speak to you per se, but if they do it every day or often, then it becomes harassment.
  • the last criterion, is that because of this repeated violence, the person who suffers this harassment tends to isolate himself and cut himself off from the rest of the people in order to avoid suffering too much.

This deterioration can affect the physical or mental health of the harassed individual, causing anxiety, discomfort, stomach aches, etc.

In summary, what will count in recognizing acts such as harassment is the insulting nature and the frequency of the comments. If the content of the words is obscene or threatening, that constitutes harassment.

Defining cyberstalking

Le cyber harassment is, as the name suggests, harassment taking place on the Internet. This then includes social networks, discussion forums, multiplayer video games, blogs and other websites.

The comments in question can take various forms, this can be characterized in the form of comments coming from Internet users, videos posted, montages of images DeepFake shared, or posts on forums or other platforms.

We then have numerous teasing or degrading photos that can be exchanged and in the end, we arrive at the same situation as for harassment that we could call “classic” with a victim who will end up isolating himself.

But while "classic" harassment usually stops at the doors of the house, here the victim does not have the possibility of cutting himself off from it and continues to suffer it all day long without being able to do anything about it. . This is what makes this cyberharassment terrible.

to summarize, cyber harassment is:

  • Verbal assaults or teasing.
  • Which take place on the internet.
  • Which are repeated.
  • Which causes the victim to isolate himself.

Who is responsible in the event of cyberstalking?

It is important to remember that those primarily responsible for online harassment are always thethe authors of the comments in question. As a result, the liability of intermediaries is not automatic, since it is subject to specific rules.

These intermediaries are generally hosts storing content produced by third parties. Concretely, this can be the host of a social network, a website, online media, a forum, or even an online game.

An intermediary will be recognized as responsible only :

  • If he is aware of the published messages.
  • And if he didn't have these messages removed as soon as he became aware of them.

What are your rights?

As you can imagine, it is obviously illegal to engage in cyberharassment and it can be punishable by law, in particular with a penalty which can go up to 3 years of imprisonment et € 45 fine if the perpetrator is an adult and the victim is a minor.

How to request the removal of the content in question?

Did you know that if you are a victim of cyberstalking, you can directly act with intermediaries ? Please be aware that requesting the removal of insulting, humiliating or threatening content is not an official complaint.

You should know that almost all social networks and video hosts offer the possibility of requesting the removal of certain content to ensure respect for people. However, their withdrawal criteria are specific to each host and do not depend on French law.

Most discussion forums allow you to report messages considered obscene or threatening to those in charge. Social networks offer the option of blocking a person, in order to stop any contact between the victim and his harasser.

So there are ways toalert social networks about certain behaviors. You can report inappropriate or abusive behavior on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok ou Snapchat.

This is not an action that will stop this cyberstalking, but between the content removed and the potential penalties applied to those accounts through the site, it could at least slow it down first.

How to act in an emergency?

If you know someone who is being harassed online or if you are a victim of cyberharassment and the situation requires urgent help; law enforcement, Alert the police or gendarmerie directly.

In case of emergency, you can contact the police or gendarmerie via telephone or SMS, if you are unable to speak.

Here are EMERGENCY numbers to know.

It is important to know that if you are hard of hearing or unable to speak, contact emergency services by SMS by writing to 114. You will then communicate in writing with a professional.

The goal here will be to involve them by explaining to them that personal information against you is circulating between malicious people and that you are afraid for yourself or your loved one.

If you ever have information about the people who are harassing you, or at least some of them, do not hesitate to pass it on to the police to allow them to intervene. Moreover, following this call, we advise you to file a complaint.

We also advise you to do this, even if you have not had to call urgently because it is the only way to stop what is happening.

How to report content to the police?

Did you know that the government website-reporting allows report any illegal content on the Internet ? This site is even managed by specialized law enforcement agencies.

To report illegal internet content, all you need to do is access the website for internet reporting to click on " REPORT And follow the steps. Be aware that a report can be made even if you are a minor.

It is advisable to always request the removal of illegal content from the author or the site host in addition to reporting it to the police.

How do I report sexist or sexual harassment online?

If the online harassment is related to your sexual orientation or your gender, there is a dedicated reporting channel for this type of cyberstalking. It is therefore possible to alert the police and the specialized gendarmerie, whose service is entirely intended for victims of sexual or gender-based violence, including online.

Go to government site Service-public.fr > go to the section Online services and forms > then click on Report domestic, sexual or gender-based violence.

How does the complaint and investigation procedure work?

How to collect the necessary evidence?

We advise you not to wait for the police or gendarmerie investigation. The victim must have the reflex to collect the evidence of their harassment themselves, particularly by taking screenshots.

Know that it is possible to call a bailiff to take these screenshots. Thus, the exhibits will be valid and can be used during a trial.

Our little tip : contact a bailiff as soon as possible. Check out this Directory of Judicial Officers to find one near you.

How to file a complaint?

Obviously, the victim can and is strongly encouraged to file a complaint against the perpetrator (s) of the harassment.

It is good to know that a minor can go alone to the police station or the gendarmerie to report the facts of cyberstalking. However, he cannot become a civil party himself to claim damages. So only his parents can do it on his behalf.

Know that if ever the victim does not know the true identities of the stalker (s), she can always file a complaint against X. However, online intermediaries and hosts must allow the courts to identify the person(s) at the origin of the content in question.

In summary, in the event of cyberstalking, you must:

  • Keep evidence of cyberstalking itself.
  • Keep any evidence that could help the police track down the identity of the stalkers.
  • Contact the site moderation service.
  • Call the police in case of danger.
  • File a complaint.

You now know the essentials to know about your rights and possibilities of protect yourself from cyberstalking. Share information to fight online harassment together!