Online harassment can occur when digital technologies (social media, email, text message, gaming platforms or other messaging services) are used to post unwanted, inaccurate, or threatening content specifically targeting an individual or group. Behaviors that could potentially be considered online harassment include remarks that a reasonable person would perceive as seriously alarming, seriously annoying, seriously tormenting or seriously terrorizing of the person and that serves no legitimate purpose which can include impersonation, threats, revealing personal information, cyber stalking, or sending unsolicited sexual messages or images.
Guide to Combatting Social Media Trolls and Online Harassment
Step 1 - Assess the threat
Call the police. If you or your family (or another identifiable group) appear to be in imminent danger, call 911 immediately! If you receive threats that you feel are serious but not imminent, call the UC Davis Police (Davis non-emergency line 530-752-1727 / Sacramento Campus non-emergency line 916-734-2555).
Step 2 - Gather evidence
Document it. Take screenshots of potentially harassing messages or posts and save the unique links to posts or messages in a separate document. Be sure to grab information about the user or handle names, their real name, the links to their profiles and any other information about the source of the harassment. This information will be useful to your department chair, IET, case workers or police units who may be assisting you and could be used as evidence.
Step 3 - Get support
- For faculty - Connect with your administrative leader (department chair, the dean’s office, lab lead, other) and the communications teams from your college. Additional guidance for supervisors and faculty leads supporting someone who is a target of online harassment can be found here.
- For staff and student employees - Reach out and alert your supervisor right away, especially if the harassment may be in relation to your work. Together, you and your supervisor will assess and follow the guidance for supervisors posted here.
- Contact our Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP) to report the incident.
- Davis Campus
- 530-747-3864 (Davis Main Line)
- 530-747-3865 (Davis Anonymous Call Line)
- Sacramento Campus
- 916-734-3417 (Sacramento Main Line)
- 916-734-2255 (Sacramento Anonymous Call Line)
- For students who need support as part of a registered student organization, be sure to connect with those administrative offices and support staff.
- Davis Campus
- Ask for help before responding to media. If you get contacted by the media, you are not obligated to return the call. Reach out immediately to the News and Media Relations team at Strategic Communications who will help you sort through the next steps at 530-752-1930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ask for your personal information to be temporarily removed from the campus directory and webpages and social media. You can ask for your contact information to be removed from the campus directory, department webpages or even have posts removed from campus social media accounts if necessary. Staff and faculty should work with campus IET for help with directory listings. Students can request a confidential registry listing through the Office of the Registrar. Additionally, if you have other webpages (such as squarespace, wordpress, etc) turn off commenting features and remove any features that allow commenting, emailing or contact. These features can always be turned back on after the online attack passes.
- Limit classroom disruptions. Online attacks can also have impacts on your students or classes. For example, someone may attend your class and attempt to record. You have the right to prohibit unauthorized audio/video recording in your classroom and may report the violation to the Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs. If you feel like your class may be disrupted, be sure to connect with your department chair to discuss arrangements. Academic Affairs and OSSJA are also available for support and assistance in this area and help to navigate through situations where the Academic Code of Conduct might be breached.
- Additional support resources. You don’t have to go through this alone and we have support resources to help you navigate several different situations.
- Davis Campus Police
- EMERGENCY: 911 or 530-752-1230
- Non-Emergency: 530-752-1727
- Sacramento Campus Police
- EMERGENCY: 911 or 916-734-2555
- Non-Emergency: 916-734-2555
- Harassment and Discrimination Assistance and Prevention Program (HDAPP)
- Office of Student Support and Judicial Affairs (OSSJA)
- Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP)
- UC Davis employees - call (530) 752-2727
- UC Davis Health Employees - call (916) 734-2727
- Student Health and Counseling Services
- Students can schedule mental health appointments online through Health-e-Messaging, or by calling 530-752-0871.