What to do if you're being bullied on a social network

Bullying on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, Myspace and YouTube

You are supposed to be aged 13 or over to have an account on a social networking site like Facebook, Twitter, Myspace or Bebo. If you ever come across anything on the internet, whether it's on a social networking website or anywhere else, where people are making suggestions to you that make you feel uncomfortable or upset, please tell your parents or another adult.  

Most social networking sites prohibit bullying and other abusive behaviours which includes harassment, impersonation and identity theft. If you need to make a complaint, you can copy the terms and conditions which have been breached and take a screenshot of the comment or photo as evidence.

How to report bullying or abuse on social media

Facebook - Facebook does not tolerate bullying and say they will remove bullying content when they become aware of it and may disable the account of anyone who bullies or attacks another. The best way to report bullying on Facebook is to use the report links.

Twitter - If you receive a tweet or reply that you don't like, you can unfollow that person. If they continue to contact you you can block the user (just click on the head icon on their profile and select block user). If you continue to receive unwanted replies and it feels abusive, you can report it here. Read more about Twitter's advice on online bullying

Bebo and Myspace - To report abuse such as inappropriate content please visit the violators profile and click on the 'Report Abuse' link underneath their main photo. A member of staff will personally review all reported violations.

YouTube - flag a video you think is inappropriate (click on the little flag bottom right of the video) and YouTube will take a look at it to see whether it breaks their terms of use.  If it does then they will remove it. YouTube rules say you can't upload videos with hate content, nudity or graphic violence and if you find one on someone else's space, click on the video to flag it as inappropriate. 

Safety tips

Keep it private

Don’t post anything on a social networking site which gives your real name, address, school, phone number or which will allow a stranger to contact you in real life. Make sure you don't ID your friends either.

Don't upload anything that might embarrass you at a later date. You might not realise it but things you post on the internet now could come back to cause problems for you later on, for instance when you go for an interview for college or a job. If you have a webcam never be pressured into taking pictures of yourself that you wouldn't want other people to see.

If you're using a shared computer at school, in an internet cafe or library then you'll stay logged on even when you close the browser. So don't forget to log off when you've finished the session. 

Protecting your tweets

On Twitter you can choose to protect your tweets so that people can only follow you if you approve them first. You can select this by going into the 'settings menu' then 'security and privicy' and ticking the box for 'protect my tweets'. Find out more about the difference between public and protected tweets. 

Location settings

Many social networks like Facebook and Twitter allow you to post your location each time you tweet or post a status update. This might seem like fun for your friends to know where you are, but it can also mean that people you don't know will see where you are, especially if you're tweeting from your mobile on a profile that is public. To turn off the location settings, go into the ‘Settings’ menu, scroll down 'Security and privacy' then to ‘Tweet location’ and untick the checkbox that says ‘Add a location to my tweets’. You can also press the button that says ‘Delete all location data’, to clear information about where you’ve been in the past.

bullying on facebook, twitter bebo, myspace or youtube

Inappropriate behaviour

If anyone makes you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed online then please tell your parents or another adult. If they're doing it to you then they might also be doing it to other young people. It's particularly important never to meet up with anyone you meet online in real life, if anyone suggests that to you and particularly if they suggest you keep it secret that's a real danger sign. 

When you go into a social networking site people might approach you to be a friend but remember that no matter how much they tell you about themselves, they are still strangers and they might not be telling you the truth about themselves. There have been cases of adults pretending to be young people to chat to them online and try and involve you in inappropriate activities. This is called grooming and is a criminal offence. CEOP (The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) investigates cases of sex abuse and grooming on the internet. You, your parents, or anyone else who is concerned, can report incidents by clicking the red button on the top right hand corner of the CEOP website.

Although the police can get information from your computer's hard drive, it's helpful if you don't delete anything you think is dodgy until the police have decided whether they need it as evidence. 

Removing or blocking friends 

Facebook - click on their profile, then on the 'message' button dropdown and you will see the option to 'unfriend'. You can also block a person this way. 

Twitter - to remove or block someone on Twitter, click on the button with a head icon on it next to the ‘Follow’ button on a user’s profile. If you click on this you will see a menu with the options to BLOCK the user to prevent them from seeing your profile, and vice versa, and you can also REPORT FOR SPAM, which will alert Twitter to any users who are abusing the service. Read our article about Twitter safety.

Myspace - You can remove people from your Friend List so they can't add comments to your profile page, you can delete comments on the profile page and you can delete messages they send. You can also view their profile and click "Block User" so they can't contact you again.

Bebo - click on the username or photo of the person on your profile and then under their profile photo click the link that says "Block". You can then click on the button that says "Block". You can unblock them using that button too. However, your profile is still on view to people you have blocked. To delete a friend click on the "Home" button on the top menu bar and then click on the "Friends" button on the bottom menu bar. Choose the contact to delete and click on the red cross next to their profile. Then click the "Delete" button. That not only deletes the friend from your Bebo account but also removes your own details from their account and address list.

YouTube - go to your account page and click on "All Contacts" link in the "Friends and Contacts" section. Choose which person you want to unfriend and the click on "Remove Contacts". From then on the person won't be on your "Share Video" list. 

Closing your account

Facebook - to deactivate your Facebook account go to the "settings" tab on the Account page. That will remove your profile and content and nobody will be able to see your details or search for you. But if you decide to reinstate the account later then the whole lot will be restored, including your friends and photos.

Myspace - click on "Account Settings" and then on "Cancel Account". The cancel confirmation page then shows and you should click the red button which says "Cancel my Account". You can give a reason or not, it's up to you. Click "Cancel my Account" again and an email will be sent to the user's email address. When the email arrives, click on the link to finish the process and confirm that you want the account removed. If the email doesn't arrive have a look in your email spam folder to see if it is there. If you're a parent and you don't receive the email, remove all the content from your child's profile and in the 'About Me" section type "Remove Profile". You can also set your profile to private so that nobody else can see it. Parents can also email parentcare@myspace.com

Twitter - on the settings tab on your profile, you will see 'deactivate my account' at the bottom. Click on this to delete your account. You have 30 days to change your mind. 

Bebo - click on the "Home" tab once you are signed in and then going to "My Account" which is on the bar below the tabs. At the bottom of the "My Account" page is the link which says "Cancel Your Membership". You have to click the "Yes" button to cancel.

YouTube - click on "My Account" in the top right hand corner and under "Account Settings" click on "Delete Account". Give the reason you're quitting the site and your password and then click "Delete My Account". Log out by clicking the link in the top right hand corner. Your videos will be removed from the site immediately and the thumbnails will disappear as soon as YouTube is updated. Your profile is removed permanently.  

Don’t get into an argument or post offensive material

Don't get into arguments online, this is called flaming and it can get nasty. If you break the rules of whichever site you're on then the content is likely to be removed and you might have your membership terminated. You're not allowed to upload anything which is offensive or racist and which promotes physical harm so don't make threats to anyone. Neither are you allowed to harass people or to encourage other people to harass them. You're not supposed to ask for personal information from anyone under 18 either so if you are under 18 and anyone asks you, for instance, where you go to school, make sure you report them. 

Deleting offensive comments

Bebo - on your profile page, click on "View All" link and then click "Delete" next to the comment you want to get rid of.

YouTubehow to disable (or enable) comments and video responses:

  • Click the arrow next to the Upload button at the top of the page
  • Select Video Manager
  • Click the Edit button under the video you wish to edit
  • Click Advanced Settings
  • Adjust your preferences under "Comments and responses", then Save changes.
  • If you want to be able to review comments and videos before they’re posted, follow steps 1-4 in the instructions above. Then, under "Allow comments" and "Allow video responses", select Approved.

Spreading rumours

Don’t spread rumours or make up false things about a friend you have fallen out with. You are not allowed to upload anything which is threatening, abusive or which is defamatory. It's defamatory if you say untrue things about someone which give them a bad reputation they don't deserve. It can also be harassment which is a criminal offence in the UK.

You're not supposed to upload a picture or video of anyone without their permission either.So never set up a social networking website account in the names of other people or upload false information about them. 

Further information

Bebo has lots of advice videos on staying safe

How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers through Live Chat, email us or call our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums.  Family Lives is here for you 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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