Training modules/Dealing with online harassment/slides/malicious-or-mistaken-reports

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Providing support and advice: Malicious or mistaken reports[edit | edit source]

A situation where a report was made to you in bad faith or with significant, compromising errors can be one of the hardest to address. You will be dealing with an alleged harasser who is defensive, anxious, and impatient as well as a reporter who is likely to be pushing hard for action and reluctant to reconsider their views. The key in many of these situations is to carry out communication without judgment. When talking to a mistaken reporter, remember that if they believe that they were harassed – whether you believe they were or not – you can still offer links to support venues like RAINN or the Victim Connect Helpline. Support venues exist for support in other languages.

When you speak to the accused subject of a mistaken or malicious report, keep in mind that you are delivering positive news to them. They are not in trouble, and you know they didn't do anything wrong. That doesn't mean you should communicate emotionally, however – you are a neutral, evaluative party, not a friend congratulating them on being vindicated or a prosecutor going into detail about the other party's guilt. Repeated malicious reports are a problem that should be communicated to others who may be receiving reports from the same reporter. Knowledge should be shared so that time is not wasted on evaluating reports without basis. People intentionally abusing reporting systems may need to be sanctioned, and this behavior can constitute a form of harassment itself.