Am I cyberbullying others?

This page is about what to do if you were mean to someone online or if you were called a bully. 

From saying sorry to deleting mean comments, there are lots of ways you can try to make things better if you have upset someone online.

 

Why people cyberbully others

There are many reasons why people are mean online. For example,

  • sometimes they are involved in bullying offline
  • sometimes they hit back at someone who was mean to them first
  • sometimes they are angry or upset so they want to make others feel bad too
  • some people try to be funny, but the joke goes too far and hurts another person’s feelings
  • some people share things online, not thinking first about whether it could hurt or embarrass someone else
  • or sometimes they plan to hurt another person but later wish they didn’t do it.

Have you ever said hurtful things about someone else online, made fun of them, made them feel left out, or spread lies about them? 

If so, follow the tips on this page to try to make things better for everyone online, including you.
 

Don't hit back

Was the other person mean first? It’s hard not to be hurtful back, but usually it just makes things worse. If other people join in, a lot of harm can be done. Be the first one to stop, and ask others to stop too.

Take a deep breath and think about something that makes you feel good. You can use your settings to ignore, hide or mute the other person’s posts and comments until things calm down. The eSafety Guide tells you how.

Think about their life

Sometimes it’s hard to understand why someone else feels upset or hurt. Maybe you would not feel the same way because your life is different to theirs.

No one should have to put up with people being rude to them or making fun of them because of things like their family background, culture, race, religion, gender or sexuality.

Some things that may be OK for you to say in your family or with your friends might not be OK for others, so be careful online.

Apologise

Tell the other person that you are sorry for what you said or did and try to really mean it – think about how you would feel if you were the one who had been bullied online.

Don’t wreck the apology by making it sound like the other person is weak or by blaming them for taking things the wrong way. Admit that it was wrong. Say you won’t do it again and make sure you don’t.

Next time pause before you send, post or share content about someone and think about whether it could be hurtful, and whether you would like that content to be sent to you or shared about you.

Delete the harmful content

If someone lets you know they are upset or hurt by a message you sent or something you posted or shared about them online, delete it right away. Ask other people to stop sharing it and to delete it too.

If they have added mean comments to your post, delete those as well. If you set up a fake account in someone else’s name, delete it and tell other people why it’s gone.
 

Report the harmful content

If you are unable to stop the spread of the harmful content, report it to the site, game or app that you used to send, post or share it. The eSafety Guide tells you how. If the content is not removed within 48 hours and meets the definition of cyberbullying, let the other person know they can report the cyberbullying to eSafety and we may be able to get it removed.

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Don't be a bystander

If you know someone else is being mean or hurtful online, don’t be a bystander. Ask the person who was targeted if they are OK. If it is safe to do so, tell the person who was mean that it is not OK. Standing up for others online can make it a safer space for everyone.