What to do if you’ve received a negative message online

By Anti-Bullying Pro

It’s difficult, it’s annoying, it happens, here’s what to do and what to look out for.

Negative messages…

can come in all shapes and sizes, from messages to pictures, this blog will give our best advice on what to do should you receive one.

One of the greatest achievements of social networks has been our ability to instantly communicate with almost anyone in the world. Whether it’s our friends, family or celebrities, it’s simpler than ever to talk to people and share stories, pictures and memories. However there is a flipside; it’s also easier for people to send and receive negative messages.

Almost everyone on social networks at one point or another has received a negative message, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult when it happens. It can cause us to question ourselves and release a number of confusing emotions.

It can be really tempting to retaliate to a negative message, but it’s rarely the right answer. Rather than stopping the issue it tends to aggravate the situation even more and lead to further negative messages being passed around which creates issues further down the line.

Almost everyone on social networks at one point or another has received a negative message, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult when it happens.

  • Take a break – When we see that notification flash up on the screen it kicks our body into overdrive, making us react in a way that we probably wouldn’t otherwise and might regret later. That’s why it’s really important to take 5-10 minutes away from the screen and focus on something else.
  • Report the comment – When you feel ready, go back to the screen and report the comment to the social network. For most major social networks this means it will go to a designated employee who will review it against their terms of service. If they find that it does break the conditions they will normally take it down. However they may not be able to see any of the context around the message so we’d urge you to take the time to give as much detail as possible as to why it’s offended you. This makes it far more likely that the social network will take action. It is also important to note that sometimes negative messages don’t break the terms and conditions of social networks and they will be unable to take action. In these situations you should make sure that you are blocking whoever sent you the message to stop them getting in contact with you again.
  • Tell someone – You should also make sure that you tell someone you trust, if possible make this a trusted adult, but it could also be a friend or a confidential helpline (Childline 0800 11 11 (UK) or 1800 66 66 66 (IRE)).
  • Block the sender – It doesn’t need to be forever, it doesn’t need to be for a specific reason and the person won’t be notified by the social network that you’ve done it, but it can be really powerful in giving you the space you need to live your life online without their negativity. It’s also really flexible, so if you feel like you’ve resolved things and can trust them again then you can unblock them.
  • Save the evidence – This can sound a bit counterintuitive at first; why should you save a negative message about yourself? There are a number of good reasons for doing so. Firstly it can help with explaining to people exactly what’s going on, without having to try and remember exactly, you can simply show them. Secondly it can also be used as evidence by the police if the message is serious enough to require investigation.
  • Check your privacy – Make sure that you have taken a little bit of time (it can be done in a couple of clicks) to go over your privacy and make sure that you are only receiving messages from people you really want to. On ASKfm you can opt out of anonymous questions all together.

Look out for one another, social networks are made up of people, so they’re going to reflect the attitudes and behaviours of those people. It’s really important therefore that we support one another online; if you see a friend receive a negative message online then you can reach out to them and make sure they’re okay. You might also want to report the message to the social network on their behalf.