Do I REALLY Need to Worry About My Password? (Spoiler Alert: Yes!)

red padlock with a heart etched on it

Passwords have become such a regular part of our daily lives that it’s easy to forget about the importance of making sure they’re secure. We generally only think about password security when we’ve gotten a notice that one of our accounts has been compromised, or when we’ve forgotten our current password and have to make a new one. Rather than seeing them as a main line of defense against prying eyes, it’s easy to get into the habit of just being annoyed that we need them in the first place. 

This month, we’re taking a fresh look at password security, and the particular ways that survivors of domestic violence can use password security to protect their privacy and increase their safety. Check out our new resource “Passwords: Simple Ways to Increase Your Security” to learn more!

Twitter Announces New Safety Features In Latest Effort To Protect Users

twitter logo

Most people who have spent time on Twitter have seen the harassment that can take place within the platform - users taking advantage of the ability to remain anonymous and using it to intimidate, threaten, dox, and otherwise abuse people in a very personal and targeted fashion. In an effort to combat the often rampant abuse on its platform, Twitter announced four new safety features this month. The changes come in large part from the guidance they’ve received from the Twitter Trust and Safety Council (of which NNEDV is a member) and feedback from victims of harassment and abuse on the platform.

  • In the past, even when someone was permanently banned from Twitter for their abusive behavior, it was relatively easy for them to create a new account and continue their harassment. Twitter is now taking steps to identify those people and stop them from being able to create new accounts.
  • The creation of a safe-search mode that will remove Tweets from your search results that contain harmful content, and Tweets that are created by accounts you have blocked or muted. You can turn safe-search mode off and on so that you can still find the abusive content if you want or need to (to monitor an abuser's behavior, collect evidence, or make a report to Twitter, for example).
  • Abusive, confrontational replies that are created by new accounts without many followers, and that are directed at a person who doesn’t follow the account, will be pushed to the bottom of conversations and housed in a section called “less relevant replies.” The replies will still be viewable by those who want to see them, but won’t interrupt productive, civil conversations.

If an account holder has blocked you, but is continuing to mention you in abusive or harassing Tweets, you will now be able to report those Tweets.

We’re pleased to see Twitter take these steps to make their platform a safer place for survivors of harassment and abuse, and we look forward to seeing continued advances in promoting civility and safety online.

For more information on how to increase your safety and privacy on Twitter, be sure to check out our guide to Safety & Privacy on Twitter for survivors of harassment and abuse. It provides tips and guidance for increasing privacy on the social network, and for how to respond to others who misuse the platform.

Safer Internet Day: So What's the Deal with HTTPS?

computer with lock on it

While browsing online, you may (or may not) have noticed that some web addresses start with http:// and some they start with https://. So what’s the difference and why does that extra “s” matter so much for online safety and privacy? With tomorrow being Safer Internet Day, we thought it'd be a great time to explain.

HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) encrypts the data that’s sent between your browser and the webpages you visit. When you see https:// at the beginning of the address, it means that the page you are visiting is secure. It tells you that it isn’t a fake version of what you were looking for, and that information you enter on that page is kept private.

For instance, Facebook uses HTTPS by default, so every time you go to log into your Facebook account, you should see that the login page is https://www.facebook.com. As long as you see that “s”, you can rest assured knowing that the username and password you enter will be kept secure and private. But if you see that instead it says http://www.facebook.com, it means someone has set up a fake version and is trying to steal your login information and gain access to your account.

For survivors who are especially concerned for their privacy and are carefully trying to ensure no one gets access to their accounts, this is an important tip to remember. In addition, there are a number of things you can do to help make sure the pages you are visiting are secure:

  • Most browsers now will show an icon of a deadbolt lock when you are on a site that is secured with HTTPS.
  • When you use the newest versions of Chrome or Firefox to browse the internet, you’ll receive a warning if you are trying to access a webpage that isn’t properly secured.
  • The browser extension HTTPS Everywhere can be added to your Firefox, Chrome or Opera browser and will automatically switch thousands of websites you visit from HTTP to HTTPS.

But remember that nothing is perfect when it comes to online security. HTTPS has its vulnerabilities - but using it is much better than browsing the web unencrypted. Most importantly, on Safer Internet Day and every day, it’s critical to remember that online security is a complex picture. HTTPS is just one of many tools available to increase security. For more tips and information on increasing your online safety and privacy, especially if you are a survivor of abuse, visit our Toolkit for Survivors on Technology Safety & Privacy.

Data Privacy Day: Honoring A Survivor’s Right To Safely Access Technology

person on computer

When a survivor reaches out to a domestic violence program for help, it’s often as a last resort and with much trepidation. Social connection, access to financial resources, and a safe home have often been systematically stripped away from them by their abuser. Smartphones, email, and social media accounts are often the last remnants of their connection to support, and can serve as an important lifeline when they’re in danger.

Yet we often hear from survivors that when they’ve reached out for help about the harassment, stalking, and abuse they’ve experienced through technology and social media, the only advice they get is to completely disconnect from technology and delete their accounts. But this places the blame in the wrong place. The technology isn’t the issue; the abuser’s behavior is. And worse yet, this response punishes the victim for the abuse they’ve suffered, forcing them to become more isolated because their only option is to disconnect. It also impacts their safety; if a survivor is in need of help but can no longer access their support systems, the risk of danger can increase dramatically.

This Data Privacy Day, we celebrate a survivor’s right to safely access technology, and encourage programs to proactively safety plan with survivors to help them feel empowered and safe with their technology use. We need to view safe access to technology, the internet and social media as a fundamental right of survivors. Technology is a necessity in our everyday lives, and removing it is not a feasible option. Instead, domestic violence programs can help survivors not only find temporary refuge, but also help them build a new skill that will empower them to stay connected, feel less isolated, and have communication tools that can help them in emergency situations.

The Safety Net Project develops tools and resources that help both survivors and victim service agencies become more informed about how to safely use technology, and about how abusers might misuse technology to stalk and harass. On Data Privacy Day, we encourage you to explore these tools listed below, and to reach out to us with any questions you may have about the safe use of technology.

  • The TechSafety App - This app was created for anyone who thinks they might be experiencing harassment or abuse through technology or who wants to learn more about how to increase their privacy and security while using technology.
  • Technology Safety & Privacy Toolkit For Survivors - Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking often need information on how to be safe while using technology. This toolkit provides safety tips, information, and privacy strategies to help survivors respond to potential technology misues and to increase their safety and privacy.
  • The App Safety Center - There’s an app for everything, right? An increasing number of apps for smartphones and tablets are attempting to address the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. With so many apps, knowing which ones to use can be difficult. The App Safety Center will highlight some of these apps by providing information on what survivors and professionals need to know to use them safely.
  • Agency’s Use of Technology: Best Practices & Policies Toolkit - The way domestic violence, sexual assault, and other victim service agencies use technology can impact the security, privacy, and safety of the survivors who access their services. This toolkit contains recommended best practices, policy suggestions, and handouts on the use of common technologies. 

Protecting Victim Privacy While Increasing Law Enforcement Transparency: Finding the Balance with Police Data Initiatives

One of the hallmark efforts of the outgoing Obama administration has been the Police Data Initiative, launched to improve the relationship between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. The Police Data Initiative encourages local law enforcement agencies to publicly share information about 911 calls, stops, arrests, and other police activities so that community members can look both at individual cases, as in some high-profile events covered by the media, and at trends that might reveal disproportionate response over time.

It has been more than two decades since the Violence Against Women Act was first passed, and we have seen significant improvements in the criminal justice system’s response to domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. This success is due in great part to the efforts of victim advocates and law enforcement officials working together to improve systems. But as we celebrate these successes, we know this work is far from finished, and that there is still much work to be done to improve police response - particularly within marginalized communities.

As we work with law enforcement to improve responses to victims and communities, we must ensure that the privacy and safety of victims who interact with law enforcement is a fundamental cornerstone of those efforts. Police data released to the public has the potential to reveal victims’ identities and consequently put them at risk of further harm, harassment, or damage to their reputation. These concerns can also significantly impact a survivor’s decision on whether they even contact law enforcement for help in an emergency.

For more than a year, Safety Net has explored the issue of how to maintain victim privacy and safety while simultaneously supporting the overall intention behind the Police Data Initiative. These efforts have been made possible by the support of the Office on Violence Against Women (U.S. Department of Justice) and Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and in partnership with the White House, the Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Sunlight Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Vera Institute of Justice, and others.

Today, we are pleased to announce the release of a guide that outlines the results of these efforts titled, “How Law Enforcement Agencies Releasing Open Data Can Protect Victim Privacy & Safety”, which was authored collaboratively with the Police Foundation. This guide describes the need for victim privacy to be a central consideration in efforts to share data with the public, and provides specific recommendations that will assist local law enforcement agencies in their efforts to ensure victim privacy while increasing transparency.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing a similar guide written for advocates, as well as an issue summary that describes how the Police Data Initiative intersects with our work to ensure the safety and privacy of survivors.

 

YouTube’s New Tools Attempt to Address Online Harassment

Online harassment and abuse can take many forms. Threating and hateful comments turn up across online communities from newspapers to blogs to social media. Anyone posting online can be the target of these comments, which cross the line from honest disagreement to vengeful and violent attacks. This behavior is more than someone saying something you don’t like or saying something “mean” – it often includes ongoing harassment that can be nasty, personal, or threatening in nature. For survivors of abuse, threatening comments can be traumatizing, frightening, and can lead some people to not participate in online spaces.

YouTube recently created new tools to combat online abuse occurring within comments. These tools let users who post on their site choose words or phrases to “blacklist” as well as the option to use a beta (or test) version of a filter that will flag potentially inappropriate comments. With both tools, the comments are held for the user’s approval before going public. Users can also select other people to help moderate the comments.

Here’s a summary of the tools, pulled from YouTube:

  • Choose Moderators: This was launched earlier in the year and allows users to give select people they trust the ability to remove public comments.
  • Blacklist Words and Phrases: Users can have comments with select words or phrases held back from being posted until they are approved.
  • Hold Potentially Inappropriate Comments for Review: Currently available in beta, this feature offers an automated system that will flag and hold, according to YouTube’s algorithm, any potentially inappropriate comments for approval before they are published. The algorithm may, of course, pull content that the user thinks is fine, but it will improve in its detection based on the users’ choices.

Survivors who post online know that abusive comments can come in by the hundreds or even thousands. While many sites have offered a way to report or block comments, these steps have only been available after a comment is already public, and each comment may have to be reported one by one. This new approach helps to catch abusive comments before they go live, and takes the pressure off of having to watch the comment feed 24 hours a day.

These tools also offer survivors a means to be proactive in protecting their information and safety. Since many online harassment includes tactics such as doxing (where personal information of someone is posted online with the goal of causing them harm), a YouTube user can add their personal information to the list of words and phrases that are not allowed to be posted. This can include part or all of phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, or usernames of other accounts. Proactively being able to block someone from posting your personal content in this space will be a great tool.

Everyone has the right to express themselves safely online, and survivors should be able to fully participate in online spaces. Connecting with family and friends online helps protect against the isolation that many survivors experience. These new tools can help to protect survivors’ voices online.

Recognizing and Combating Technology-Facilitated Abuse

In addition to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, October is also recognized as National Cyber Security Awareness Month.

Online Harassment is Abuse

One misconception about technology-facilitated abuse is that online harassment is not “real” abuse, that the harassment or threats they receive online may not be credible or as scary. Yet, not only can online threats be extremely terrifying, but much of this abuse is often tied to offline behaviors, including stalking and assault. Victims’ experiences are often minimized as they are told to just “get offline,” “change their number,” or “log off.” When so many of us live and work online, disconnecting is not a sustainable solution. We instead focus on educating survivors on helpful safety planning strategies, including creating strong passwords, locking down their accounts, and documenting instances of abuse and harassment. However, for there to be true cyber security for victims of violence, we must work to stop the abusive and harmful behaviors and tactics that are often perpetrated online.

Technology-facilitated abuse is a serious issue that does not always remain online and could possibly escalate to other forms of violence. [1] The presence of technology in our lives today is also vastly different than 50 years ago. How we look for employment, stay connected to friends and family, or even use transportation all requires some interaction with technology. Studies show that 74 percent of adults who are online use a social networking site [2] and 81 percent of adult cell phone owners send and receive text messages. [3] Technology can give victims access to important resources and services and allow them to stay connected to their loved ones and other support systems. While safety planning provides important steps to give control back to survivors, creating safe online environments should also be a priority of advocates, service providers, technologists, and law enforcement.

In a survey conducted by NNEDV, 97 percent of domestic violence programs reported that abusers use technology to stalk, harass, and control victims. Nearly 80 percent of programs reported that abusers monitor survivors’ social media accounts and 86 percent reported that victims are harassed through social media. [4] One in four stalking victims report cyber stalking, which includes receiving unwanted emails, text messaging, and social media surveillance and/or harassment. [5] All of these behaviors - harassing, monitoring, and unwanted calls and text messages, creates a pattern of stalking and abusive tactics that aims to control the victim and to further instill fear. [6]

Technology is Not the Problem

It’s important to recognize that technology is not the enemy. Asking a survivor to log off, press delete, or not use social media, will not stop the abuse from happening. If we really want to increase cyber security, we must hold bad actors accountable for their actions. This means that we must address the sharing of nonconsensual personal images, take threats and harassment seriously, and call out rape culture that is tweeted, texted, or shared.

While there are some limitations to monitoring technology-facilitated abuse and proving who is behind abuse, [4] there has been tremendous effort in creating policies around privacy, victim confidentiality, and technology safety.

NNEDV’s Safety Net project is dedicated to looking at the intersection of technology and intimate partner violence, and addresses how technology impacts the safety, privacy, accessibility, and civil rights of victims. In addition to training, education and advocacy, the Safety Net project offers a host of resources and tip sheets for survivors and agencies working with survivors.

Get Involved

  • Visit techsafety.org to learn more about technology, privacy, and safety as it relates to survivors of abuse and the programs that serve them.
  • This month, we are challenging widely-held perceptions about domestic violence using the hashtag #31n31 – and this week we are focusing on technology safety-related misconceptions. (See the entire campaign on Pinterest.)
  • Learn more about Cyber Security Awareness month and other ways you can be involved at Stay Safe Online.

[1] Matthew J. Breiding et al., (2014). Prevalence and Characteristics of Sexual Violence, Stalking, and Intimate Partner Violence Victimization – National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, United States, 2011. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 63(8). http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/pdf/ss/ss6308.pdf
[2] Social Media Use Over Time: Pew Research Center http://www.pewinternet.org/data-trend/social-media/social-media-use-all-users/
[3] Cell Phone Activities: Pew Research Center http://www.pewinternet.org/data-trend/mobile/cell-phone-activities/
[4] A Glimpse From the Field: How Abusers Are Misusing Technology (2014)https://static1.squarespace.com/static/51dc541ce4b03ebab8c5c88c/t/54e3d1b6e4b08500fcb455a0/1424216502058/NNEDV_Glimpse+From+the+Field+-+2014.pdf
[5] Katrina Baum et al., (2009) “Stalking Victimization in the United States,” (Washington, DC:BJS, 2009) https://victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/baum-k-catalano-s-rand-m-rose-k-2009.pdf?sfvrsn=0
[6] Fraser, C., Olsen, E., Lee, K., Southworth, C., & Tucker, S. (2010). The new age of stalking: Technological implications for stalking. Juvenile & Family Court Journal, 61(4), 39-55. 

Voting Safely

With the presidential election looming just around the corner, there seems to be reminders everywhere to “make sure you’re registered to vote” – in various news outlets, in social media, and even on signs in coffee shops. What you don’t hear that much about are the potential privacy risks associated with being registered to vote. We believe that the election process is a fundamental right that everyone should have access to; and we also believe that people need to make informed choices to balance their privacy and safety.

Unfortunately, registering to vote can raise privacy and safety risks for some survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or trafficking. For many, privacy and safety are intricately connected. Every state treats their voter information differently; however, the personal information of registered voters is often accessible in a number of ways. For example, many states allow people to check their voter status online, which can display their current home address. A list of state-specific links to check your voter status can be accessed here. Survivors who are registered can check this not just to ensure they are registered correctly, but to also see what someone else could learn about them if they know some of their basic information already. Please note: you don’t need to fill out any information on this site – just scroll past that section and you’ll see the list of states and where you can check your voter status.

Other states allow candidates for public office, researchers, or other groups to purchase voter records with very little regulation on what information may be included. Some states have Address Confidentiality Programs (ACPs) for survivors of violence that include protections to voter registration information; however, these programs are not a solution for everyone. Some ACPs are not able to protect voter record information and many have strict eligibility requirements.

This complex web of privacy risks and protections makes navigating the voter registration process a challenge for those who are concerned about their personal privacy for safety reasons. Survivors should understand how their personal information is handled when they register to vote and how it could be accessed by others, so they can assess their risk and make an informed decision. Additionally, we need to work to create more privacy protection options so that everyone who wants to vote can do so safely.

NNEDV just created a new resource, Voter Registration & Privacy which dives into these issues even more. Check that out, learn more about how your personal information can be accessible, and, if it’s safe for you to do so, get out and vote this November! 

Need to Call 911? There’s an App For That!

In the past year, the app market has been flooded with a plethora of 911 alternative or enhancement apps. Some of the apps promise that they will connect you to 911 faster and more accurately. Other apps say they will connect you to 911 and provide emergency dispatchers with personal information about you, so you don’t have to. One app promises to collect evidence by recording the crime being perpetrated against you and connecting you to a “safety officer.” (Note: As far as we could tell from the app or its website, the safety officer has no connections to a legitimate law enforcement agency.)

Many of these app developers are asking domestic violence and sexual violence programs to partner with them and are encouraging programs to have survivors download the app.  While we’ll have reviews of some of these apps available soon in our App Safety Center, here are some things to think about when considering whether these apps are right for you.

What These Apps Are Trying To Fix

Currently, the emergency 911 system in the United States is complex. How your call gets routed to 911 depends on whether you’re calling from a landline or a cellphone. Generally, a landline number is connected to the house that number is registered, making it fairly easy for emergency responders to locate you. Calls from cellphones don’t have a set location. Instead, the 911 system uses the cell towers your phone is connecting from to identify your location. Your location can be fairly accurate or not very accurate at all, depending on how far you are from cell towers or how well your phone is communicating with the towers. This is especially problematic for callers from rural areas.

Another problem with the current 911 system is that if someone can’t speak, she or he can't explain what is happening when calling 911, a system that generally requires the caller to explain to the emergency dispatcher what is going on. Some of the apps try to overcome these limitations.

Some Serious Concerns

Despite how helpful these apps might seem, there are some serious issues to consider before you decide if it is the right app for you.

How Connected Are They to the Real 911 System?

These apps are not part of the traditional 911 system. They are a third party that promises to connect you to 911. When you use the app, it connects to you a call center, where an operator asks you questions or interacts with you via the app. After that, it routes you to the nearest 911 dispatch center where you (or the app call center) speak to an actual emergency dispatcher, who then has the authority to send emergency responders. If you were unable to speak or communicate or if you hung up, the app service may call you back and, depending on their policy, may inform your local 911 emergency dispatch center that you called. However that is not very different from how 911 currently works.

When in an emergency, there should be as few delays as possible between your call and the emergency responder. It is really important to consider all your options in contacting 911 so that you get the quickest and most efficient response.

Do They Really Work?

These apps are very new. They have not been tested to see how many times they are successful in connecting callers to emergency dispatch centers compared to their rates of failure. If you live in an area where, after calling 911, emergency responders were unable to locate you or unable to communicate with you, then these apps might be an option. However, if calling 911 currently works just fine for you, then consider if you need another app that does what you can currently do by dialing 911 from your phone.

If you do choose to use one of these apps, test it. Make sure that it works the way you want it to. Don’t wait until you’re in an emergency to realize that it doesn’t work. In our tests of some of these apps, we found that when we used the texting option, although we received messages from the app saying “help is on the way” and that 911 would be contacting us soon, no calls or assistance came. We suspected that this might be the case, since most 911 call centers are not equipped to respond to text messages so we knew that this was unlikely to work.

But Don’t These Apps Have More Features than the Current 911 System?

Some of these apps have additional features that you may find useful and helpful to you. If you test it, and it works the way it should, and you want an app that offers these features, then go ahead and use it. However, there are a few things to consider about some of these features.

A lot of these apps promise to determine your location better and more accurately than the current 911 system. While this may be true in some circumstances, it may not be true a hundred percent of the time. Your cellphone location is accessible in a variety of ways. If your phone is dead or you are in an area with very poor or no signal, there is no guarantee that these apps will do a better job at locating you.

One of the selling points for some of the apps is that if you share personal information about yourself (physical identifiers, medical conditions, family members, number of pets, etc.), they will provide that information to emergency dispatchers, making it easier for emergency responders to know what to do. Keep in mind, however, that emergency dispatchers and emergency responders are trained to respond to emergencies with as little or as much information as they are given. It really depends on the emergency you are in whether this additional information would be truly helpful. Also keep in mind of what this third party does with the personal information you share. Read their privacy policy and know how else they share or sell your personal information. They should also have robust security to protect your data and inform you if they have a data breach.

A final concern is how “evidence” from these apps (which can be in the form of recorded audio or video) will hold up in court. Generally, 911 calls are used as evidence in criminal cases, but if you are using an app where your first emergency contact was with a third-party company, how that interaction will submitted in court is unknown. Talk to local authorities about how this type of evidence could be used. Ask the app service how accessible the “evidence” will be. Some companies may release the evidence only with consent from you, and some companies may release it to anyone with a proper legal order, which might include the abusive person and his or her attorney.

Should I Download a 911 Alternative or Enhancement App?

Many of these apps are being marketed specifically to domestic violence and sexual assault victims because they know that survivors’ ability to connect with 911 is critical. If you want the ability to make a silent call to 911, or want a service that will communicate to someone your location, name, and any other personal information you choose to share, one of these apps may give you peace of mind. However, don’t trust your safety to an app without learning all that you can about it and testing it.

Additional points to keep in mind:

  • It might be faster to call 911 from your phone. Most smartphones have an emergency feature that allows you to call 911 with a swipe and a tap, even if your phone is locked. If the app requires you to unlock your phone, find the app, open it, and then do whatever is needed to send the emergency call (tapping a button 3 times, or push a button and then confirm or cancel the call 3-5 seconds later), it might be faster to just dial 9-1-1 during a serious emergency.
  • These apps will not prevent crimes from happening. Any app that claims or implies that is lying. (One app, for example, claims that using their app is “like having an officer in your back pocket.”)
  • Assess whether you have a situation in which using these apps will enhance your experience when calling 911. For example, you may live in an area where emergency responder has had a difficult time locating where you are, but after testing one of these apps, it does a better job.
  • If the app contacts other people (in addition to emergency dispatch centers) and shares with them that you are in an emergency, talk to the people you chose for the app service to contact and let them know that they may be contacted and what they should do.
  • Have a backup plan and trust your instincts. Don’t rely entirely on these apps. If you are in an emergency and something doesn’t feel right, trust your instinct and do what is right for you.

Safety & Privacy on Twitter: A Guide for Survivors of Harassment and Abuse

Twitter Privacy & Safety Guide Cover Image

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and Twitter are excited to announce a new resource, Safety & Privacy on Twitter: A Guide for Victims of Harassment and Abuse. This guide provides specific tips and guidance for Twitter users on increasing their privacy and responding to other users who misuse the platform.

Both NNEDV and Twitter firmly believe that people should feel safe in all spaces, including online. Unfortunately, many people misuse online platforms, such as Twitter, as a tool to harass, abuse, and stalk. This occurs in domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking cases, as well as instances of mob harassment specifically targeting a person. NNEDV consistently advocates and works to help ensure that survivors can actively participate in online spaces without being victimized. As part of this work, NNEDV sits on Twitter’s Safety Council to share the experiences and challenges of survivors in this space and provide suggestions for addressing their needs.

This new guide walks through a number of safety tips to help users control their privacy and explains several features to ensure that users are making informed decisions on how they use Twitter. These include a detailed look at how you choose who can see your Tweets, how you manage your publicly available information, and how you control the sharing of your location. Many users are not familiar with some features that can be extremely helpful to victims of harassment, abuse, or stalking – such as the ability to remove location information from all past Tweets at once.

Understanding how to respond to harassment and abuse is just as important as controlling your own account and privacy. This guide also focuses on how Twitter defines harassment and what constitutes a violation of their Community Standards. The steps to block, mute, or report another user are explained, as well as additional considerations for survivors who many want to contact law enforcement or legal assistance.

Many victims of harassment and abuse are told to go offline or avoid certain spaces, although this is not a n acceptable solution. Getting off social media doesn’t guarantee any level of safety or privacy and it doesn’t hold those perpetrating abuse and harassment accountable. That is not the experience anyone should have online. Survivors should be able to use social media and online spaces while also maintaining control over their personal information and feeling safe. Being informed about how to best use the spaces they are in helps to accomplish this. Survivors should and must be safe at home, safe at the office, safe on the street, and safe online.

Check out the new guide here