Harassment is any form of repeated action against someone against their wishes and consent. Online harassment is a virtual form of harassment that takes place over the internet. This can include threats, sexual harassment, or spreading rumors and misinformation about the victim.
Online harassment simplified
Anyone can fall victim to abusive behavior that happens online. Abusers who commit online harassment often do it to make you feel unsafe, humiliated, scared, or emotionally distressed. They may be trying to publicly embarrass, sexually harass, threaten, dox, bully, offend, or otherwise harass you. An abuser may do these things to maintain power and control over you.
Online harassment can be informed by leaked data. If someone gets hold of your personal information, they might use it to harass you online. Threats of violence usually fall under the category of harassment unless they’re done with the intent to get something of value from the victim.
Tips to prevent online harassment
Don’t share your information
Be careful what information you put out, like intimate details and photos. This is especially important on social media as such information is available to anyone.
Privatize your profiles
Turn on privacy settings on your social media profiles so that they’re not accessible to just about anyone. Even then, it’s better to not have sensitive information there.
If someone tries to harass you online, report them to the website owners or your local authorities. Harassment is illegal or frowned upon in most cases.
Harassment or threats of violence crime stats
According to the FBI Internet Crime Reports, here's how devastating harassment or threats of violence cases were from 2015 to 2022:
Average losses and victim count
year over year
Online harassment cases have reached record numbers with 20.6K yearly victims (around 56 victims per day) in 2020.
Victims have reported the highest average financial loss to harassment or threats of violence cases in 2016 ($1.3K per victim).
During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the number of harassment cases grew by 33%, but the average financial loss fell by 75% (from $1.3K to $318) per victim compared to 2019.
Online harassment is one of the few cybercrimes that has become less costly over the years. Daily financial losses have decreased around 24% from $36K to $29K per day since 2015.