Safety & Privacy on Twitter: A Guide for Victims of Harassment and Abuse

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) and Twitter are excited to announce a new resource: Safety & Privacy on Twitter: A Guide for Survivors of Harassment and Abuse. This guide provides specific tips and guidance for Twitter users on increasing their privacy and responding to other users who misuse the platform.

For more than fifteen years, the Safety Net Project at NNEDV has led the gender-based violence field in addressing “technology safety,” a broad term that encompasses the idea that technology first and foremost does no harm to victims; that survivors know how to use technology safely to decrease isolation; that victim service providers know how to harness technology appropriately and effectively; and that abusers are held accountable when they misuse technology to stalk, harass, and harm victims.

Both NNEDV and Twitter firmly believe that people should feel safe in all spaces, including online. Unfortunately, some people misuse online platforms, such as Twitter, as a tool to harass, abuse, and stalk. This can occur in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, as well as instances of mob harassment specifically targeting one individual. NNEDV consistently advocates and works to ensure that survivors can actively participate in online spaces without being victimized. As part of this work, NNEDV sits on Twitter’s Safety Council to share the experiences and challenges of survivors in this space and to provide suggestions for addressing their needs.

This new guide outlines a number of safety tips to help users control their privacy and explains several features to ensure that users are making informed decisions when participating online. When it comes to Twitter specifically, the guide includes a detailed look at how you choose who can see your Tweets, how you manage your publicly available information, and how you control the sharing of your location. Many users are not familiar with some features that can be extremely helpful to victims of harassment, abuse, or stalking – such as the ability to remove location information from all past Tweets at once.

Understanding how to respond to online harassment and abuse is just as important as controlling your own account and privacy. This guide also focuses on how Twitter defines harassment and what constitutes a violation of their Terms of Services. We define the steps to block, mute, or report another user, as well as additional considerations for survivors who many want to contact law enforcement or seek legal assistance.

Many victims of harassment and abuse are told to go offline or avoid certain platforms but this is not an acceptable solution since getting off social media doesn’t guarantee any level of safety or privacy and it doesn’t hold those perpetrating abuse and harassment accountable. That is not the experience anyone should have online. Survivors should be able to use social media and online spaces while also maintaining control over their personal information and feeling safe. Survivors should and must be safe at home, safe at the office, safe on the street, and with the support of Twitter, safe online.

We encourage everyone to read and share the Safety & Privacy on Twitter Guide by visiting: