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  • 19 Mar 2024

    What can I do if I am being harassed on social media?

    Eni Aluko who played for Chelsea and England, scoring 33 international goals in 102 games before retiring in 2020 has been reported by the BBC as saying that X allows people to ‘vomit hatred unchecked’ – see the article here: Eni Aluko says X allows people to 'vomit hatred unchecked' - BBC News 

    Many of us might appreciate the benefits social media. How it can play a key role in the livelihood of individuals whether being used as a tool to run a business or as a means to share stories and pictures with friends and family. Unfortunately, it is becoming more evident that legislation and policing of social media has struggled to keep up. 


    The Online Safety Act, which received Royal Assent in October 2023, is the UK’s attempt at placing greater responsibility on tech companies, which own and run the social media sites, to protect users, young or adult. 

    Despite the passing of this new Act, the BBC’s report on Eni shows that all social media users are still at risk of being targeting and can experience discrimination or harassment by other users. 

    It is common in Family matters, where emotions are already incredibly high and where issues such as cohabitants separating, the breakdown of marriages and child arrangements to name but a few, can be open to criticism from friends and family, and the parties to these issues can find themselves subject to unwanted messages or attention from third parties, an important question must be asked: what can be done if someone is harassing you on online? 

    Firstly, anybody subject to harassment online from another user can report the incident to the Police for them to investigate and to the social media platforms directly to action. There may be other options, depending on the circumstances. 

    A harassed individual can also apply for a non-Molestation order provided the person ding the harassing activity is defined as an associated person. This means either one of the following: 

    • They are or have been married to each other.
    • They are or have been civil partners of each other.
    • They are cohabitants or former cohabitants.
    • They live or have lived in the same household, otherwise than merely by reason of one of them being the other's employee, tenant, lodger, or boarder.
    • They are relatives.
    • They have agreed to marry one another (whether or not that agreement has been terminated).
    • They have or have had an intimate personal relationship with each other which is or was of significant duration.
    • They have entered into a civil partnership agreement (whether or not that agreement has been terminated).
    • In relation to any child, they are one of the following:
      • A parent of the child.
      • Have or have had parental responsibility for the child.

    In which case it is very important to retain all evidence of the alleged activity from the very first incident and any further harassing activity. 

    Even if you have or have not reported the harassment to the Police and if even if, after investigation, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute or reached the conclusion that the individual was not guilty, you can still apply for a Non-Molestation Order so long as the harassing individual is an associated person. 

    Non-Molestation Orders are sought, in the majority, through privately funded applications based on evidence, hence why it is crucial to have and to build the evidence of the alleged harassment from the very outset. 

    Once the application has been made by the Applicant, hearings can take place on short notice and in the absence of the Respondent (the alleged harassing individual). There are usually three hearings that can take place in proceedings. 

    If the Respondent does participate in proceedings, undertakings can be made by the individual. These are promises to the Applicant and the Court, to not do certain things that if the person fails to restrain from doing, would make them open to arrest. 

    If the Respondent does not participate in proceedings or chooses to fight the case, not wishing to give undertakings, and proceedings reach a final hearing, and the Applicant is successful, the Court can Order the Respondent to pay for all or a proportion of the Applicant’s legal costs. 

    Ultimately, it is important to note that how or in whatever form you become subject to harassment or discrimination, including through social media, it is vital legal advice is sought at an early stage to understand what options are open to you and Hegarty will serve to work diligently and give tailored advice to suit your circumstances. 

    Contact our team today

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