Training modules/Dealing with online harassment/slides/keeping-yourself-safe

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Communication: Keeping yourself safe[edit | edit source]

Protecting your personal information[edit | edit source]

People who work on harassment complaints can become targets themselves and have their names and communications spread on the internet. When communicating with both the reporting party and the accused, use some simple rules to protect yourself.

  • Realize that anything you write may be shared or "leaked" publicly. Think about how your words could be taken out of context, or used against you, as you write.
  • For communications regarding your Wikimedia role, consider using a separate email address, one that does not give personal details in the address name.
  • Do not give personal details in your communications. Sometimes it is tempting to give personal experiences to show you empathize with someone suffering harassment (e.g. "I saw a very similar situation when I worked at my campus help center in Mumbai"), but you need to protect your own privacy.
  • Consider using a VPN or other tools to help protect your web identity, particularly when investigating through avenues which might track your activity.

Protecting your emotional well-being[edit | edit source]

Try to remember that while empathy is valuable, over-empathizing with a case can make things more difficult for both you and the people you are trying to help. If you connect too closely with the reporter, they may develop unrealistic expectations about what you can provide. You also risk exposing yourself to "secondary trauma", where you begin to experience the same negative effects as targets do. This will limit your ability to help people long-term and could lead to recurring psychological problems in the future.

Be realistic with yourself about what you can and cannot do, and realize that some distance and barriers will help you perform your role better. You can't solve all problems by yourself!