Given the anonymity and feeling of impunity that the Internet provides, the rise of online trolls, revenge porn and online stalkers, and keeping in mind the sheer number of cases of women and girls committing suicide in India over online harassment, it’s clear that we have to come to terms with how horrifying online abuse can be, and know what tools and avenues are available to us to handle it.
Nyaaya (an amazing online legal resource that explains central and state laws in simple English) has created a handy and comprehensive set of guidelines on the different actions to take if you face online abuse. It’s been posted on Breakthrough India.
It lays out various kinds of abuse you may face online, such as someone posting your private pictures without your permission, your account getting hacked, online stalking, receiving violent or abusive messages or obscene material and receiving physical threats online.
The first action it suggests is blocking the users and reporting the abuse to the social network itself, and it provides detailed steps on how to do that on each network, from mobile and through desktop. It then tells you the legal status of each of these situations, the sections of various Indian legislations that apply, the legal recourse available to you, and how exactly to take it.
It also throws up some interesting facts. For example, did you know that only women have legal recourse in situations where someone has found all their social media handles and keeps contacting them when they have said they don’t want to be contacted? It’s because this comes under the offence of stalking, and the current laws on stalking only apply to women.
You can read Nyaaya‘s full guidelines on how to deal with online abuse here.