Online hate and abuse
Online abuse is when a person uses the internet to send, post or share content that harms someone.
This hate might be aimed at a person or group for things they can’t change – like their culture, sexuality or gender. People direct online hate at our mob at more than double the national average. It can happen to mob at any age.
If you’re being seriously abused online, you can ask the platform or service to take it down. If they don’t, eSafety can help.
On this page:
Dealing with online abuse and racism
Technology is a great way to stay connected to the world and to the people we love.
But unfortunately, us mob can often experience racism and hate speech online.
This happens to First Nations Community more than it does to many other people, especially if Community members identify as being different in other ways.
Racism and hate speech are just as wrong online as in person, but there is something you can do about it.
If any abuse happens to you, remember to take pictures or screenshots.
You can use these to report it to the social media app or website where it was posted so they can help.
If there is no response, the eSafety website can tell you what steps to take next.
They may be able to remove harmful content and sometimes take action against the app or site if they don’t help.
You should also change your privacy and security settings so you only connect with people you know and trust.
You are not alone, and there are ways to stay safe.
The eSafety website has tips about how to report abuse and be safe online.
You can also speak with your local ACCO, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Organisation or legal service for further advice.
Let's take care of ourselves and each other so we can all stay safe online.
Video: Handling hate speech
How can eSafety help?
eSafety supports mob at all ages with different types of online abuse. We can help you manage it and get very harmful content taken down.
If the person being abused is 18 or older, it’s called adult cyber abuse.
If the person is under 18, the abuse is called cyberbullying.
Adult cyber abuse
Adult cyber abuse is when a person uses the internet to send, post or share content that harms the mental or physical health of someone who is 18 or older.
It can include:
- being harassed or stalked online
- being threatened online with violence
- being repeatedly attacked with online hate.
Tanya and her daughter Ebony are at home. Tanya is using the computer and is shocked to find a nasty online post from her sister, Sal.
Tanya: Ahh! That bloody bitch!
Ebony, look what your bloody cow of a godmother posted on her page!
Ebony: [Reading post] My goddaughter wins healthy fun run.
Oh, what's wrong with that, Mum?
Tanya: How about this? [Reading comment] Proud Mum Tanya, leading by example as usual LOL!
Ebony: Mum, is that an Extra Megaburger?
Tanya: I'll show her LOL!
Tanya goes to the cupboard to find a photo of Sal. She picks one of Sal wearing a towel, just as she's getting out of the shower.
Tanya: Here it is.
Ebony: Mum, don't do it!
Tanya: [Posting] We've all had some tragic moments, hey, Sal? Pissing myself laughing!
Sal and her daughter are at home. Sal is at the computer and gets a shock when she sees the photo that Tanya posted of her. Ebony calls her cousin (Sal's daughter). Ebony's grandmother also sees the post, and comments from her tablet.
Cousin: [Answering phone] Hey, Eb, heads up. Mum's going off her head here. Gonna end badly.
Ebony: I know. And they tell us off about posting stuff online.
Sal: [Typing] Take this down now! This could affect my job, you idiot!
Tanya: Oh, it's so different now it's of you! [Typing] Rolling on the floor laughing.
Grandmother: [Typing] You two need to grow up. You're supposed to be sisters, not enemies. Go and sort peacefully, face to face.
Sal: You're right! [Typing] I'll sort this out face to face. Anyone who wants to see Tanya be put on her big fat ass, be at her place in 20 minutes.
Tanya: You'll see who gets put on their ass!
Grandmother: That's not what I meant!
People from around the community rush over to Tanya's house. Sal is out the front as Tanya comes out.
Sal: Come on, hero! Let's see what you've got!
Tanya: Bring it!
Sal: Come on then!
Tanya: Come on then!
Sal: Come on then!
Tanya: Come on!
Sal: No, you come on!
The police arrive.
Sheriff: Everyone needs to disperse from the area now! Let's just settle down and go home!
Think twice before sending the wrong message. Online fights can grow into a big mess.
Video: Little things.
If the person being abused online is under 18, it's called cyberbullying. You can help young mob to deal with it. Look out for mean behaviour like:
- sending hurtful messages about another person
- sharing photos or videos to embarrass someone
- creating fake accounts in another person’s name.
Let's go on a journey.
Long time ago in the Dreaming, stories were formed and told the old way, person to person.
These stories have left footprints for generations to follow.
These days, technology has changed the way we share and tell our stories.
[Reads title] Bullying online, shame long time.
Cyberbullying is bullying using phones and online sites.
It can happen to anyone and can leave you feeling unsafe and feeling shame.
Cyberbullying can make you feel alone, outside your friends, family and the mob.
It can split families and communities, and sometime can lead to payback and violence.
What does it look like?
Abusive texts and emails, threats, posting nasty comments, photos and gossip, pretending to be someone else online to stir trouble or bring shame, leaving people out online, blackmail, hate pages.
How do you deal with it?
Don't fight back. No matter how much you want to, as soon as you fight back online, it makes it worse and leaves a bad footprint for you.
Don't post abusive messages. It can get you in trouble with the law.
You can block the person who's doing the bullying.
Change your privacy settings.
Report it and collect the evidence.
Keep mobile phone messages, emails and online posts.
Talk to someone you trust.
If you see or know about cyberbullying going on, there are things you can do.
Support the person being bullied.
Ask them if they're OK.
Don't forward on messages or pictures if you see them.
Stand up and speak out.
Keep the messages to show a trusted adult or a leader in the community what's going on.
Report and block the bully.
This can be done online and is anonymous.
Under 25? Worried about cyberbullying? You can make a free call to the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.
Video: Bullying online. Shame longtime.
What can I do?
Before you do anything else
You don’t have to cope on your own. It’s a good idea to tell a support worker or someone you trust. They can help you to deal with it and report the abuse.
If you're helping young mob, you can follow these steps with them.
Take screenshots and record what has happened and where, like:
- the web page address (URL)
- the other person’s user profile
- the date and time it was sent, posted or shared.
Find out more about how to collect evidence.
Report the abuse to the online platform or service (like the site, game or app) that was used to post or share the content.
The eSafety Guide has links to some common ones like Facebook and TikTok. This is usually the fastest way to get the content taken down.
If the abuse is serious and the online platform or service does not remove it, report it to eSafety.
If someone’s threatening you, your family or friends, you can also report the abuse to the police.
Find out what to do if someone shares or says they will share a nude or intimate image or video of you, without your consent.
Ignore, hide or mute the other person’s posts or comments so you don’t keep seeing them.
After collecting evidence, you can also block them through your account or on your device. This takes away their power to upset you more. The eSafety Guide tells you how to do this.
Get more help
Online abuse can make you feel scared, angry or shame and it’s hard to know where to go for help.
You might like to:
- talk to a counselling service for more support
- contact local police if you’re worried about your safety.
With any service, you can ask if an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander support worker is available to help you.
Illegal and restricted content
Illegal and restricted online content is the worst type of harmful online material. It shows or encourages violent crimes including child sexual abuse, murder, rape, torture and suicide.
Report this type of content to eSafety right away.
How to protect yourself
Try not to fight back or respond to abusive messages. It might get you into trouble with the law and makes things worse.
Seek help instead from someone you trust or read eSafety’s tips about connecting safely online.
It happened to me
One in five young people like me have experienced bullying online and believe me, being hurt by something online was just as bad as being hurt in real life.
But I always remember that bullying says much more about the people doing it than it does about me.
So, while it's hard, I try not to respond.
And while I might want to delete the things that are said, I make sure I screenshot them first, so I've got evidence of what's been happening.
A bit like the bruises from those rocks.
There's ways I can block and report bullying on most social media and in most games and apps.
The eSafety Guide has tips on how to do this, but the best thing I've done is talk to people about it and get some support from people who've got my back because we all deserve to be treated well and that means online too.
For more information on how to stay safe online, visit esafety.gov.au. Funding for this project has provided through the eSafety Online Safety Grants program, an Australian Government initiative.
Being bullied online
Drama on social media is just as real and hurtful as drama in real life, so whether you are directly involved or not, it's always best to have a cool head and help calm things down, if you can.
Don't retaliate. It's just adding more wood to the fire.
Try changing the conversation with some positive comments or a different subject.
Offer a different side to the story, or say something nice about the person that's being targeted.
I sometimes reach out to that person and let them know I've got their back, even if I'm not their best mate.
And if the drama is getting serious, it might be time to reach out for more help by speaking to an adult you trust, or someone who'd be able to help you out with the situation.
Because standing up for others online is way better than standing by.
For more information on how to stay safe online, visit esafety.gov.au.
Funding for this project has provided through the eSafety Online Safety Grants program, an Australian Government initiative.
Creating drama online
Get confidential help from a support service
Confidential, culturally safe crisis support line for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Available all day, every day.
5 to 25 year olds. All issues. Confidential phone counselling available all day, every day. Online chat available 24/7, 365 days a year.
Last updated: 26/06/2023