With some of the messages I’ve been receiving, I thought it might be best to go over a few resources.
I’m getting harassed on Facebook. What do I do?
You can report any post, message or conversation as abusive on Facebook/Messenger, whether it’s a secret conversation or not. The same is true of Instagram. Snapchat has undergone a lot of controversy and criticism in recent years (or, you know, since it launched) for bullying, and they have a reporting function as well, despite snaps being designed to disappear.
I have a lot of issues with the way these companies chose to word their instructions. And I find it really odd how the emphasis on blocking a person
a) comes before the instructions for reporting, and
b) is so insistent
since these pages are supposed to be FAQs on how to report harassment and abuse, not how to block a user.
Unconscious bias in language so fun to encounter, isn’t it?
Here are the instructions for reporting abuse on a few social media apps.
This doesn’t really stop anybody, does it? Sure, they can’t access their original account. But, like Director, they can set up a new one. Everyone has the ability to create a new email account within seconds. Removing access to their account doesn’t solve anything.
Heck, they don’t even have to be your friend to send you a message on Facebook or Instagram. Their messages just go to a different box until you approve or accept them.
I’m not trying to scare you out of reporting. I absolutely think you should. But, first, document any contact they had with you. And if they do start a new account and contact you again, document that, and then report that they’ve set up a new profile and are beginning the same behaviors.
I can’t promise Facebook/Messenger/Instagram/ETC will act on that report. But in the horrible case where the behaviors escalate having a record of that report is very important. And it seems they took Ex-Director’s behavior pretty seriously, so I can promise there’s hope.
My Alternate Solution
Go ahead and call me crazy for this one because it is a bit…extreme, shall we say.
When a person is a convicted sex offender, they have to be registered with the DOJ’s National Sex Offender Registry. I have a few issues with the current system, such as who is required to register and who isn’t. (I often fear that how we label people as a society is always going to be problematic, and that’s something we can talk about another time.) But the basic idea behind it is pretty solid, in my opinion, and I think we can apply it here as well.
So here’s my alternate solution: I think if someone has been proven to be a sexual harasser on a social media outlet, they shouldn’t simply have their account removed.
Before we move on, let’s address “proven” here because proving sexual harassment is a rigorous process. Since my harassment was Facebook-based, I’m going to leave the discussion on that particular medium.
Facebook doesn’t simply receive a complaint about a message and automatically remove someone’s access to their account. Someone from the content review teams reviews the messages in question, and, if they decide it constitutes harassment by their own policies, it’s escalated. If the supervisor concurs, then they’ll suspend or remove the account on Facebook’s behalf.
But when an unbiased third party (such as Facebook) says “Oh yeah, these messages are definitely sexual harassment,” and goes so far as to remove the account, there isn’t a danger of the harasser having been the victim of misunderstanding or miscommunication. The person is definitely a sexual harasser. Anyone still questioning that truth has their own issues to sort out.
Instead, we should give the harasser an option. They can choose to have their account removed, or they can leave their profile in place.
If they choose option a, swift removal, like what happened to Ex-Director.
If they choose option b, then we allow them to use it as long as they like; let them send all the messages they want. But a banner would be placed across the top of their profile that states they’ve sent sexually harassing messages.
On Facebook, for example, I’m thinking something where the cover photo would be. Something a little like this.
I’m about to receive so much hellfire and brimstone for this post. I can feel it in my bones.
Listening to: “When I Dance With You” The Pains of Being Pure at Heart