Collect evidence

People who have experienced online abuse and harassment often want the abusive material removed immediately.

But it is important to preserve evidence first.

If you have experienced serious and harmful online abuse and harassment you may want to report it to the police or take legal action. To do so, it is helpful to collect evidence before the content is removed. Evidence can help you show the police and the courts exactly what happened.

Evidence can also be useful if you plan to report the abuse or threatening behaviour to the site or social media service it was posted on. Showing evidence of the online abuse can help to have the person who shared the abusive material blocked from that service. It may also help prevent this content from being shared again in the future.

Report abuse

How do I collect evidence?

You can save evidence of any abusive material that has been posted online, including posts, images and videos, by taking screenshots or photos of the content. You should also save or record evidence of the webpage addresses (URLs) or social media services where the abusive material has been shared.

Always record the time and date you collected the evidence.

If possible, also record the times and dates the abusive material was shared, including any other information that you think may be important. This might include the username/s of the person or people who shared the material.

Taking a screenshot

Screenshots are a quick and effective way of preserving evidence. They may also have the added advantage of recording other details such as usernames and dates, but it is important to also take detailed records to accompany screenshots. See our ‘how to’ videos about taking screenshots.

‘How to’ videos

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To take a screen shot on an iPhone, iPad or iPod, press and hold the power button on the top or side of the device and then press the home button.

The screen will flash indicating that a screen shot has been taken.

Swipe the image to the Left to Save in photos.

It will disappear from the screen but be saved in the Camera and Photos files.

To Save the Screenshot in a different file, or Email it. 

Touch the image to open it.

Crop the image if required.

Select the Upload icon.

Select where the image should be sent.

If the Screenshot is in the Photos or Camera file, it can also be shared by Selecting Upload, and choosing the right option. 

Taking a screenshot on an Apple device (with a home button)

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To take a full screenshot on an Apple Mac, press the Command, Shift, and 3 keys down all at the same time. 

The screenshot image will be saved to the Mac desktop.

To take a screenshot of only part of the screen, simultaneously press the Command, Shift, then the 4 keys. 

The cursor will then change to a cross-hair pointer.

Move the cross-hair to where you want to capture. Click and drag to select an area.

To adjust the area, hold Shift, Option, or the Space bar while you drag.

When you've selected the area you want, release your mouse or trackpad.

The screenshot image will be saved to the Mac desktop.

Find out more at eSafety for Women.

Taking a screenshot on a Mac

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Due to the large number of different devices that use Google's Android operating system, there are different ways screenshots can be taken.

If the methods we describe in this video don't work for your device, we suggest a Google search on how to take a screenshot using your particular device.

For Samsung Galaxy devices, press and hold the power button, then the home button for one to two seconds to take the screenshot. 

Another option is to turn on the palm swipe to capture option in the Motion and Gesture settings of some Samsung Galaxy devices. With this enabled, simply swipe across the screen from left to right with the side of your hand to take the screenshot.

For Android devices from most other manufacturers, press and hold the power button, then the volume down button for one to two seconds to capture the screenshot.

Most Sony Xperia devices offer an additional method. Press and hold the power button for one to two seconds until the power options appear. If the option is available, select take a screenshot. 

Once the screenshot is captured, it will be automatically saved in the default gallery or photo app on the device.

If none of these methods work for your new device, it might be running a version of Android earlier than 4.0. You may need to download a third-party screen capturer from the Google Play store.

Google search how to take a screenshot with the name of your device to find a solution if the methods described in this video don't work on your device.

Find out more at eSafety for Women.

Taking a screenshot on an Android device

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To take a screenshot from a PC, you can use the print screen function.

Begin by opening the window you want to capture, then press alt and print screen by holding down the alt key and then pressing the print screen key.

The print screen key is often in the top row of keys on a keyboard near the upper right corner.

Click Start. Then select Paint.

In the Paint window, open a new page and click Paste.

Click File, and then click Save As.

In the Save As dialog box in the File Name box, type a name for the screenshot.

And then click Save. The file is now ready to be sent. 

You can also use the snipping tool.

Go to Start, then select the Snipping Tool.

In the Snipping Tool, select New.

Use your cursor to select the area that you want to snip.

Save the snip or send it.

You can also print the actual page using a printer.

Select the Print option from the menu.

Select the preferred printer and Options. Then select Print.

Before printing the page, it's a good idea to check Print Preview to make sure the page will print in a suitable format and includes all items on the page.

If not, it's best to take a screenshot instead.

Once it is printed, the URL or web address will appear at the bottom of the page.

Find out more at eSafety for Women.

Taking a screenshot on a PC

What if the online abuse involves intimate images of people who are under 18?

Be aware that possessing, creating or sharing sexualised images of people under 18 may be unlawful. For more information about relevant laws in Australia, visit Youth Law Australia.

If you encounter child sexual abuse material online, please report it to eSafety via our online report form. Reports can be made anonymously.

Other information to document

This information will be useful to provide context for the screenshots or photos of the abusive material you have saved. It can demonstrate more clearly why the material is affecting you.

  • Duration — how long has the abuse been going on? Is it happening daily, weekly, every month, every few months?
  • Intensity — has the abuse got worse over time? Has the language the abusive person is using become more abusive, threatening or demanding over time?
  • Relationship — is the abusive person known to you? If so, what is your relationship with this person? For example, are they an ex-partner? If the abuse is part of domestic and family violence and you feel unsafe, contact the police immediately.
  • Impact — how has the abuse made you feel? Do you feel frightened or scared? Do you feel upset? Has it affected your ability to work or carry out other responsibilities? If you are feeling frightened or unsafe, contact the police immediately. If you need support, find a counselling or support service that is right for you.
  • Action taken — what actions have you already taken to try and stop the abuse? Have your reported previous abusive posts? Have you reported fake accounts? Have you blocked accounts the abusive person is using?