Website Harassment

FAQ's For HSU Students Facing Website Harassment

I'm the victim of on-line harassment. Somebody is posting lies and terrible things about me on MySpace.com, facebook.com (or another similar site). Isn't that a crime?

It certainly does feel like a crime to the person who sees negative postings about themselves on a website. But it is not a prosecutable violation of criminal law to post lies and innuendo about people on the Internet; it is not a crime. The police aren't authorized to get search warrants, seize computers, or arrest people who do this. Derogatory slander (spoken words) and libel (written words) may constitute "defamation of character", but these are civil issues, requiring a lawsuit to be filed by the victim.

Doesn't the University care about what is going on? Won't they do anything?

The University does care, absolutely. "Abusive behavior" by a member of the campus community may violate the Student Code of Conduct. Such behavior interferes with the academic mission of the University. Also, if someone is using the University's computing resources to harass or threaten other users, they could be violating the HSU computing "Appropriate Use Policy". People have and will be disciplined for this type of on-line conduct.

University staff may assist you in attempting to identify the person who carried out the "abusive behavior", and then will investigate if a violation has occurred. If the investigation confirms the abusive behavior by a member of the campus community, then a disciplinary process will follow.

What should I do if I am a victim?

If you are a victim, use the website's links to report the inappropriate content, requesting that it be removed. You will probably need to submit to the webmaster and/or customer service person the URL of the offending page or profile, a brief description of what on the page or profile offended you, and some proof that you are the "victim"- the person named in the page or profile. Keep a record of your request and don't give up in your efforts to have the offending material removed. If you believe you know who is posting the offensive material about you and wish the University to take action, contact Student Affairs at 826-3361, Nelson Hall East #216, or email. Anyone on campus who personally receives a specific threat by any means (in person, note, phone call, or email) should contact University Police, 826-5555, SBSB Room #101, or email the department.

What can I do to minimize the chances that this will happen in the future?

Be very careful about what YOU say or post about others. Be careful about where you post photographs; in many cases others can simply copy and post your photographs on their own page or profile. MySpace.com adds:

"The best thing to do if and when you encounter such a situation is simply ignore them... 99.9% of the time they will soon leave you alone. Remember, you can always remove the person from your Friend List (they will then no longer be able to add Comments to your Profile page), delete any Comments they leave on your Profile page, and you can even delete any messages they send you via the MySpace Mail system without opening them. By NOT responding to offending user (i.e., NOT giving them any attention, NOT letting them get a "rise" out of you), most people will simply go away. You may also view their profile and click "Block User", which will prevent them from contacting you. Annoying people get bored very fast when you don't allow them to annoy you."