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3 types of online harassment to watch out for

Yusep Ardiansyah
Yusep Ardiansyah

Digital analyst who writes

Jakarta  /  Fri, August 9, 2019  /  03:23 pm
 3 types of online harassment to watch out for

The concept of online harassment is simple: people use digital platforms such as social media, email, applicationsĀ or websites to attack and stimulate a highly unpleasant emotional reaction in the target. (Shutterstock/File)

Social media facilitates us in writing and sharing anything we want. From a milestone in our life to an abrupt rant we unnecessarily need to share, there is no limit to letting everybody know what we are up to.

On the other hand, the liberty and openness that these digital platforms offer have had some ugly consequences. One of these consequences that we witness in our daily digital life is online harassment.

The concept of online harassment is simple: people use digital platforms such as social media, email, applications or websites to attack and stimulate a highly unpleasant emotional reaction in the target. There are many types of online harassment that should cause us concern.


The term catfishing might not be heard so often, but it is not a new thing.

Catfishing refers to making a fake account and becoming an imaginary person on the lookout for a romantic relationship online. This happens frequently on dating apps, but can also take place on other online platforms such as Facebook or Instagram.

To hook the victims, a catfish will usually build a persona as someone who is too good to be true by putting up a photo of a good-looking person and creating a fictional life story. Looking for a romance on the internet is normal, but getting it through deception is another level of immoral. In some cases, a catfish not only wants a romance but money or revenge.

Why would people indulge in catfishing? There are many factors such as low self-esteem, loneliness, bullying, seeking attention and financial situation.

Anyone can be a victim of catfishing at any time, but it can be avoided. The easiest way to spot a catfish is by googling the image and all of the information about someone trying to hit on you. If nothing pops up or the image refers to someone else, that might be a sign.

Another way is to invite them for a face-to-face encounter. A catfish is always reluctant to meet their victim in real life and will make excuses to avoid it.


Another form of internet harassment is trolling. Trolling means creating outrage by making controversial or provocative statements.

It is difficult to tell if someone is trolling or just arguing. Bear in mind that the core concept of trolling is intentionally making the users involved upset by adding provocative and irrelevant topics to the ongoing conversation. For example, when a YouTuber is reviewing a smartphone on his channel, and there is someone making a nasty comment about his skin, that is trolling.

Trolling can take place both online or offline but social media can arguably be called the ever-growing garden of trolls. A survey revealed that 35 percent of people in the United States encounter trolling on a daily basis in their digital lives. This behavior is very dangerous due to the negative effects on the psychological wellbeing of the victims that may drive them to depression or, even worse, suicide.


Flaming is the most common internet harassment that can be found easily on social media. This act of harassment includes obscenity, profanity, bigotry, racism and any hatred designed to hurt someone’s feelings. Oftentimes, flame wars are heated up by a different stance on social, political or religious matters.

Anonymity is one of the contributing factors to internet flaming. The option of being anonymous on social media is a reason why flaming is rampant in computer-mediated communication rather than face-to-face. Anonymity allows users to act in the way that they never do in daily life. By that, they feel immune to any sanctions imposed in a regular social setting.

Flaming can be avoided by responding to all questions politely with strong facts and evidence to back up, or not responding at all because it starts when the context fails during an exchange of words that makes everything misunderstood.

Online platforms should be a good place for an open discussion looking for a solution, but there is no guarantee of being safe on the internet. However, we still have the choice of being more aware of these issues circulating on the internet by filtering and rethinking what we are going to do and say before clicking “post”. (kes)


Yusep Ardiansyah is a digital analyst who writes and (sometimes) makes poems. Check out his Instagram for a weekly dose of poems. 

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.