Online bullying (also known as cyber bullying) is when a person uses digital technology to send, post or publish content with the intention to harm another person or group. This behaviour is often aggressive and repeated.
Online bullying can take many forms, including:
- Name calling
- Repeated, unwanted messages/contact
- Spreading rumours or lies
- Fake accounts used to harass people
- Excluding people from social activities
- Embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles
What to do if you're being bullied online
If you're being bullied, it's important to know how to protect yourself. Every situation of bullying is different. Check out Netsafe's following tips on what to do, depending on what's been going on:
- Don’t reply. Especially to messages from phone numbers, profiles or people you don't know.
- Don’t attack the person back. Avoid giving the bully the satisfaction of a reaction.
- Have a conversation. If it’s safe, try talking to the person privately about what they’ve said or done to work things out.
- Get support. Talking to friends or whānau can make you feel better. Or, you can reach out to online aids such as:
- Save messages and images. Take screen shots of the bullying in case you need evidence later. Learn how: Digital content records
- Cut off the person bullying you. Block their number or block them on social media.
- Report it. If the online bullying is happening on social media, you can report it by selecting Report to Netsafe. Report to Netsafe
- There's an NZ law to help. The Harmful Digital Communications Act aims to help people dealing with online bullying, abuse and harassment. Select The Harmful Digital Communications Act for more information. The Harmful Digital Communications Act
- Get help. Netsafe can help with any of the above, tell you if there’s anything you can do to stop the abuse and let you know how to stay safe. Visit Netsafe for more information. Netsafe
Bullying over phone or text
If you're being bullied over text or phone, you can message our team. We'll be able to get the Spark Call Investigation Centre (CIC) involved. CIC contact hours are 8am to 6.30pm, Monday to Friday. Message us
Some abusive calls or texts may be a criminal offence. If you feel threatened, contact your local police station for advice. A call or text of a serious nature may include the following:
- A threat to kill or injure someone
- A threat to damage property
- Explicit language, behaviour or images
- Calls that may breach a protection order
Spam and phishing
- Spam refers to emails or texts from an individual or a company that you didn't ask to receive. It's the junk mail that you get, such as advertising or services you don't necessarily want.
- Most spam is annoying but harmless advertising. However, in some instances it can be malicious. Spam can be sent with the intention of gaining access to your personal or financial details. This is called phishing.
- Phishing is a type of social engineering by a party pretending to be from a trusted company. They try to steal information, such as:
- Login details
- Credit card numbers
- The Department of Internal Affairs website has information on laws around spam in New Zealand. Learn more about New Zealand spam law
How to avoid spam
To avoid getting spam in your inbox, you can flag it as spam or junk. Flagging the message tells your email account to send this type of email to a separate spam or junk inbox in future.