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FAQ about making a cyberbullying complaint

This page is for cyberbullying of
under 18s.

If you are an adult experiencing cyberbullying, please go to our adult cyber abuse section.

We can help with removal where it is serious cyberbullying material.

But even if we are unable to help with the removal of content, we can still offer advice, assistance and resources.

These frequently asked questions (FAQ) are designed to help you understand how to make a cyberbullying complaint to us. You can also read an overview of how to make a complaint and, once you are ready, you can start your complaint.

Frequently asked questions:

We aim to remove serious cyberbullying material as quickly as possible. After assessing your complaint, we can request that a social media service remove the cyberbullying material within 48 hours.

We will work to get serious cyberbullying material removed from any communications service.

If the cyberbullying material is on one of the social media services we work with, you should report the abusive material to them first. If they do not remove the content within 48 hours you can make a cyberbullying complaint to eSafety. Check the list of social media services we work with to see if the social media service where the cyberbullying occurred is one of our tier 1 or tier 2 services.

Most social media services have rules prohibiting cyberbullying and offer a complaints or reporting tool where you can ask for cyberbullying material to be removed. With other sites, services and platforms, you can report using the reporting links in the eSafety Guide, or you can make a complaint to us.

Do you need to report cyberbullying on a social media site?  Visit the eSafety Guide, which contains reporting links and online safety information for major social media services, games, apps and sites.

You can make a complaint if you are an Australian child — that is, you are under 18 and live in Australia.

We can accept your complaint if you are 18 years old and were cyberbullied as a child, provided you make the complaint:

  • within a reasonable time of becoming aware of the matter and within six (6) months of your eighteenth (18th) birthday

We also accept complaints from adults who are:

  • a parent or guardian of an Australian child
  • authorised by the child to make a complaint on behalf of that child

We can provide general advice and guidance to adults experiencing cyber abuse.

We can accept a complaint if you are 18 years old and you were cyberbullied as a child, in these circumstances:

  • As long as you make the complaint within a reasonable time of becoming aware of the matter and within six (6) months of your 18th birthday.

This scheme is for people who are under 18, and in certain circumstances for people who are 18 years and six months old (see above for details).

For adult Australians experiencing online abuse or harassment please see our advice on dealing with adult cyberabuse, which contains helpful information on what to do, how to request the removal of content from social media services and how to engage help from police.

We will need evidence of cyberbullying such as screenshots and other information. Find out more about how to collect evidence in cases of cyberbullying.

Providing as much information as possible when you make your complaint will help us understand your case and enable us to provide the best advice and help.

You can find out more about what will happen when you make a report in how we handle cyberbullying complaints.

The way we deal with your complaint will depend on a number of factors. For example, we will review whether your matter falls in the scope of the law as well as assessing the level of seriousness of the complaint.

As a general guide, we will consider factors such as:

  • whether your complaint involves a matter of serious cyberbullying material that has been posted online
  • whether you have provided enough evidence to support your complaint
  • whether you have first complained to the social media service and no action was taken

We encourage you to make a complaint to us — even if we are unable to take action to get cyberbullying material removed, we can provide advice, support and assistance based on the circumstances of your case.

For more information see how we handle cyberbullying complaints.

The role of eSafety is to resolve complaints about cyberbullying where the material is likely to seriously threaten, seriously intimidate, seriously harass or seriously humiliate an Australian child under the age of 18.

We take a flexible approach so that children who are genuinely affected by cyberbullying material are protected. This involves considering both the individual child and the material itself.  When we consider a child we look at the child's background and particular circumstances, any vulnerabilities of the child and the relationship between the child and the person posting the material.

When considering the material, we look at things like the language used, the impact of any audio or visual material, the sensitivity of the material, the number of potential views and how often the material was posted. To be pursued, material must be more than merely offensive or insulting.

If we find that the material is cyberbullying material, there are a number of things we can do.

We can:

  • offer advice, assistance and resources
  • request that the social media service remove the material
  • issue a notice for removal of the material
  • work with your school, parents or police to help stop the cyberbullying
  • ask the person who posted the cyberbullying material to remove it, stop posting any further cyberbullying material about you or apologise.

Find out more information in how we handle cyberbullying complaints.

Get information unless it is publicly available or provided voluntarily. For example, we cannot trace IP addresses to identify people or access social media postings which are private. We also cannot provide legal advice, you are free to consult a lawyer or contact your local community legal centre should you wish to explore legal options through the courts.

We can still investigate a complaint even if you do not know who is doing the cyberbullying and we can still take steps to have serious cyberbullying material removed from a social media service.

We do not need to identify you to get material removed from a social media service. However, if we decide the best way to handle your complaint is to issue a formal end-user notice to the person posting the cyberbullying material, we may need to tell that person who has made the complaint. By law we are required to give that person a right of reply, so they get a chance to tell their version of what happened.

An end-user notice is a legal notice to the person responsible.

We will confirm that you are comfortable with us issuing an end-user notice before we do so.

We can use an end-user notice to request that the person posting cyberbullying material:

  • removes it from the social media service it is on
  • stops posting any further cyberbullying material about you
  • apologises to you

Yes. We can request the social media service to remove the material regardless of where the material was posted.

Talking to a trusted adult can help you manage the cyberbullying situation.

The general rule is that will we ask you if it is okay for us to contact your parent or guardian to help us resolve your complaint. However in some situations we may still need to contact your parents or guardian even if you have not given consent for us to do so.

If you are under 15 years old we recommend that you provide the details of your parents or an adult you trust when you complete the complaint form.

We ask for you to provide details about your school.

The information you give us can help us to resolve your complaint. Your school may be able to help us address the problem for you. This will be particularly important if the person who is cyberbullying you attends the same school. Your school may also provide you with help and support.

The general rule is that will we ask you if it is okay for us to contact your school to help us resolve your complaint, however in some situations we may still need to contact your school even if you have had not given consent for us to do so.

We may refer your complaint to the police if we think that a crime may have been committed. The Commissioner has the power to disclose information to the police if it might help resolve the matter.

Sometimes the police may already be involved.

If you feel unsafe or frightened contact your local police immediately by calling Triple Zero (000).

Find out why personal information is collected and how we protect and handle this information under our Privacy Policy.

You can also read the collection notification for cyberbullying complaints.

For information in another language, call 131 450 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call.

The Translating and Interpreting Service can also call us on your behalf. If you are hearing or speech impaired, please visit the National Relay Service or call 133 677 for TTY and voice calls (for the cost of a local call).

Start your complaint

Once you have collected all relevant information and evidence about your cyberbullying case, please make a report to eSafety.

Report

Technical issues and accessibility

If you are having trouble submitting the complaints form online, an offline form is available as an editable PDF.

Download the cyberbullying complaints form.