Facebook isn’t a safe haven. A recent study by GMI revealed that one in ten Facebook users have experienced some form of abuse. Among 18 – 24 year olds, one in four were affected. Offenders use their victims’ walls or private messages to post insults, threats, or other abusive messages.
In the real world it can be tough to avoid bullies or even prove what they have done. In Facebook, however, you have effective tools to deal with people who deliberately abuse you. And the good news is that all of your options are straight forward and simple.
Calmly Address The Offender
If you belong to the majority of victims that know their offender in real life (62%), you should probably respond to them. This obviously depends on the individual case, but sending a clear and mature message can do wonders or at least gain you a lot of respect.
When you speak with the offender, try to be friendly or professional. Fighting back with insults and threats will only bring you down to their low level. Instead, be mature and calmly ask the bully to stop. Only 14% of study participants had the guts to do that. Are you courageous enough to be one of them?
Report The Offense To Facebook
You can report offending wall posts to Facebook via the little ribbon menu in the top right of the respective post. Click the arrow head and select Report Story or Spam from the menu.
Next you will see a confirmation that the story was marked as spam. Click the file a report link and go through the following query to get Facebook’s attention.
If you received chat or private messages, you can essentially do the same. Go to the respective message and select Report Spam or Abuse… from the Actions menu.
In the following window, you can make one of three selections: mark the conversation as spam, report messages from a hacked friend, or report the sender as harassing or threatening you.
Unfriend The Offender
There is no good reason to remain friends with someone who is being mean to you.
Once you have marked a wall post from a friend as spam, Facebook will show you an unfriend button. Click it to remove that person from your friends list.
In private messages and anywhere else you can hover over the offender’s name and wait until a preview of their profile pops up. Hover over Friends until a menu opens, then select Unfriend from the bottom of the list.
Block The Offender
Unfriending might not be enough, especially if you don’t want to completely lock up your profile. Fortunately, you can selectively block individual Facebook users.
Go to Privacy Settings and switch to Blocking in the left-hand-menu. Under Block users, enter the name or email address of the offender and click Block.
Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings
Now that you have dealt with the bully, it’s time to look at your Facebook settings. If you fall into the group of people whose culprit wasn’t even on their Facebook friends list (27% in the GMI study), you should check the doors. Are they wide open for more people to find and harrass you on Facebook?
Here is what you can do:
- allow only friends to find your profile
- let only friends see your personal information on Facebook
- organize your friends in lists and share updates selectively
- accept Facebook messages from friends only
- lock your wall or let only friends post on it
I have summarized all of the above and more in this article on Critical Facebook Privacy Tips. Facebook has since released a new Privacy Menu and you can find a complete guide to the new Facebook privacy settings here.
Leave Facebook – Close Your Account – Open a New Account
This is a last resort. However, if you seriously want to close your Facebook account due to negative experiences, find detailed instructions on how to permanently delete your Facebook account here. However, don’t let a mean person sever your ties to family and friends on Facebook. You can always open a new account and start fresh.
Ralph Risk, GMI Marketing Director Europe, says:
“In the virtual world of social media people may feel it is easy and anonymous to send insulting or abusive messages to other users. Our research shows that most people on Facebook are currently able to tackle the problem themselves using the technology provided. The strength of social media has always been the opportunity to easily connect and interact with friends and groups, but to ensure its continued flexibility is not restricted by legislation, it is important that the ability to limit exposure to insulting and abusive messages is simple for users to control themselves.“
Have you been bullied on Facebook and how did you or would you react?