Stopping the Abuse

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, whether it’s over chat, posting on message boards and forums, through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones. 

Online abuse happens on various platforms on the internet such as social media, chat, forums, etc. When faced with online abuse, your first step should be to see what the anti-abuse policy of the platform is, and what steps the platform recommends for you to stop it. We have compiled a list of steps you can take for responding to abuse (blocking and reporting) on Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat, Reddit, YouTube, WhatsApp, and text messages on your phone.

If the administrators of the platform are not being responsive or you are unhappy with the results, you can also file a criminal complaint at the local police station or cyber investigation cell. It is not necessary for you to get recourse only after approaching the platform administrators. You can directly approach the police station or cyber cell to file a complaint.  When you go to the police station to file a first information report (FIR), the police have to note down the information you provide. Different provisions in law1 make online abuse and online harassment a crime. The victims of such crimes can be male or female.

  1. The Indian Penal Code, 1860; Information Technology Act, 2000[]

Reporting Online Abuse

If you are a victim of online abuse or know someone being victimised, you must report it to the authorities. You can report online abuse in any of the following ways:

Approaching the Police Station

When you go to the police station to complain about a case of online abuse that you have faced, they will ask you to file an FIR. You should make sure you give all the information you know about the incident and abuse that you have faced.

Cyber Cell

Cyber Cells are present in every state and some police stations may have a unit designated to work on cyber crimes. These cells or units will look into and help you out in cases of online violence such as online stalking, hacking, etc. In many states, you can file a complaint online through the website of the cyber cell. For instance, for Delhi, you can file an online complaint here.

If you want to file a complaint, you will have to either:

  • File a complaint online with your respective state’s Cyber Cell website or
  • Approach the police station where you will have to file an FIR which will be forwarded to the Cyber Cell.

Complaint Portals

Online Crime Reporting Portal

You can also lodge a complaint by using the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Online Crime Reporting Portal. You may be redirected to a specific State Government’s website to register a complaint.

Register a complaint in the section “Services for Citizen”, and click on “Report a Cyber Crime ”. Here, you can provide information about the offender, the victim, and the incident along with any supporting evidence, such as screenshots. You can report anonymously or with identification, and you can track your complaint as well. 

Cyber Crime Reporting Portal

You can also directly file a complaint on the Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. Complaints can also be made anonymously.  You can complain against various cybercrimes by selecting the option ‘Report Cyber Crime Related to Women/Child’ or ‘Report Other Cyber Crime’. You must login and create an account and select “Report and Track” if you wish to track your complaint.

Cyber Safety

To be safe and free from abuse on the online platforms that we use in our day-to-day lives, you can follow the following tips based on the kind of user you are and the use of the online platform:

Blocking Users on Phones

If you are being harassed by someone through calls and texts, you can block them on your phones following these steps:

Android Phones

Block Calls

To block calls on Android, go to call history and click on the contact for a few seconds. Tap on the option “Add to Blacklist” and all the calls from that number will be rejected.

Block Texts

To block SMS’s on Android, go to the SMS list and click on the SMS you want to block for 2-3 seconds and you will see the block option on the top right corner of the screen. You will continue to receive messages from that number but won’t be notified anymore and the conversation will be archived.

Apple iPhones

With iOS, you can block contacts and phone numbers on your device. You can also filter iMessages from unknown senders and report iMessages that look like spam or junk. See here for further details on the same.