When and How to Use an Online Harassment Action Plan

When and How to Use an Online Harassment Action Plan

Last week, we detailed why OnlineSOS chose checklists as a key tool for helping journalists faced with online harassment. Let’s take a closer look at the checklists, which we call Action Plans, to demonstrate how you or your organization might use them.

When to use an Action Plan

Proactively: Of course journalists are particularly at risk for online harassment because of the public nature of their work. Review each Action Plan or distribute the resources to your newsroom to help prepare you or your team if targeted in the future. You might consider reviewing Action Plans before you publish potentially controversial articles or in anticipation of highly-charged news events.

While facing online harassment: If you, someone you know, or someone at your organization faces online harassment, you can search for an Action Plan by concern or by type of harassment. Even though online harassment is notoriously difficult to define, particularly within current legal frameworks, it is clear that what you experience is real and valid. Even if you can’t put a name to what’s going on, you can use the most closely-related Action Plan to help you make a clear set of choices and regain your sense of control over the situation.

How to use an Action Plan

Note that each Action Plan is a set of recommended steps, not a strict protocol. These are best practices, but no way is the right way. Each Action Plan is meant to be simple, organized, and flexible so that you can choose the best course of action for your situation.

The Action Plan Steps

While some steps in the Now Section may seem obvious, like “tell someone you trust what’s happening to you,” they may get overlooked or de-prioritized in a moment of crisis. When we designed this section, our intention was to make sure our clients took care of these important steps before deciding what to do next.

Above: The Now Section in the Doxxing Action Plan

That’s where the Next Section comes in. Here, we list options for what you can do to take further action—with flexibility and choice—like how to secure your online presence or find a lawyer.

Above: The Next Section in the Doxxing Action Plan

Each Action Plan is designed to be simple, clear, and straightforward. They are short—no more than nine steps each—and contain links to more information or more detailed guides. For example, if a step is dependent on another action, like preserving evidence, you can easily find out how to do so. Some Action Plans feature “Also” and “Consider” sections too, which give you secondary ways to secure your information or proceed.

Anything we should add?

As OnlineSOS continues to grow and build resources for journalists and newsrooms, we’d like to make the Action Plans even more responsive to individual needs. We welcome your feedback, insights, and suggestions, which you can offer here.

Thanks to journalists, activists, experts, and concerned citizens like you we can build a world where everyone feels safe and free to speak their mind, both on and offline.