If you have been targeted with hate speech or experienced an online hate crime, you may wish to report it. Whether you choose to report to the social media platform, the police or another organisation, reporting can be an empowering action that can help to protect you and other users.
The Safe To Be survey showed that people are often reluctant to report their victimization. Sometimes they believe it is not worthwhile, or they are apprehensive about disclosing their sexual orientation or gender identity. Some have bad experiences of reporting an incident in the past. However, we always have the right to speak up about homophobia, transphobia and biphobia, to get it officially acknowledged, and to get any help we need (Safe To Be, 2018).
Anti-LGBTI abuse and violence are huge problems for our community, but reporting can make a difference. Thousands of LGBTI people choose to report hate crimes every year. Doing so is part of defending your rights and resisting those who think that LGBTI people should stay out of sight.
On the other hand, there are many good reasons not to report. If you are unsure whether to report or you are uncertain about what to expect if you do, you can talk to a victim support organisation in your country. They can give you independent advice and help you pass on information anonymously if you choose.
See the section ‘stay safe online’ for more information about whether or not to report.
See section ‘national resources’ for more information about where to go in your country.
Maybe you want to report the online aggression to the social media platform on which the incident occured, maybe you want to go to the police or a victim support service*. In any case, whether or not you want to report is completely up to you (see ‘take a step back’).
Below we will list a number of options you have in regards to reporting online abuse.
Reporting to Social Media Platforms
When you report to a social media platform, you make that platform aware of the behaviour of the user who is attacking you. This can lead to their account being deactivated or suspended, preventing them from being able to continue their behaviour. In case no action is taken by the platform and you are left wanting more, know that some platforms wait until they receive several complaints on the same account before they take action. Reporting your experience can help other people’s complaints and is therefore not lost, even if no immediate action follows your complaint. An account suspension or a warning may even act as a wake-up call for the person attacking you, causing them to change their behaviour.
Different social media platforms have different mechanisms for reporting. However, most have a built-in feature that allows you to report a post, comment or message directly and/or to report the person who created it. When reporting, you may also wish to block the person who has created the content so that they are unable to contact you further.
It might not always be easy to know how to report or flag hateful content. If you are unfamiliar with the reporting and blocking features of the sites you use, it is worth checking out their processes in case you need them in the future. Here are some resources that explain how to report abuse on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Whatsapp.
If you decide to report to the social media site, write an account of what happened to you in a word document and save this. This way you don’t have to re-write everything if you have a few steps to go through (which might be the case).
Reporting to the police
The police may be able to help you, especially if the reported abuse is linked to offline crimes or if the online activity in itself is illegal (for instance in stalking cases). Even if the police can’t help, for example because the offender is posting anonymously, by reporting you are still helping the police to get an idea of how much hate speech and hate crime takes place online. This is useful information for when the police must determine how many resources they need to tackle online crime in the future. You do not have to be sure that you have experienced a crime in order to report to the police. If you are unsure but would feel more comfortable making a report, then it is worth making a report.
Another option would be to report to an institution that operates independently from the police. See your national page for advice on how and where to report in your country.
Reporting in UK
You can report a crime to the Police by calling 999 if it is an emergency or 101 if it is not an emergency, by visiting your local police station or by using a reporting agency. These agencies include True Vision, Victim Support and Crime Stoppers which allows you to report anonymously. If you want to make a report to the police, it is a good idea to collect evidence in the form of screenshots in case the abusive content is deleted by the time you get a chance to report.
In an emergency: Dial 999
In a non-emergency: Dial 101
Online: True Vision www.report-it.org.uk
Self Evident (Police reporting app): www.witnessconfident.org/self-evident-app
On Public Transport: 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016
Anonymously: Crimestoppers 0800 555 111
If you are unsure if you want to make a report to the police, you could report to Galop. Reporting to an organisation like Galop can also help to keep a record of how many hate speech incidents and hate crimes are taking place online. Galop can also help you come to terms with what has happened. Seeking help after an incident is particularly important if it has affected your health or is otherwise preventing you from continuing your life as normal. Galop can help you report your incident to the social media platform and to the police as well as work out if these, or other, options are right for you.
Galop can be contacted via phone on 0207 704 2040, via e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org or using the online report form on galop.org.uk.
T: 020 3096 7708
Why Me? Is a restorative justice charity that works with victims of crime.
What is online anti LGBTI hate speech and hate crime? http://www.galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/What-Is-Online-Hate-Speech-And-Hate-Crime.pdf
A practical guide to tackling online anti LGBTI hate crime http://www.galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Tackling-Online-Hate-Crime.pdf
Hate crime: a guide for LGBTI people http://www.galop.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Hate-Crime-Guide-1.pdf
Online anti-LGBTI hate crime: a guide for organisations