Skip to main content

Stay safe online

This is a guide to help you stay safe online.

The person who is harassing you online is fully responsible for their actions. You have a right to be online like everyone else without fear.

Keeping your social media accounts set to private can help keep you safe online and control who can interact with you.

Privacy online

Instagram

You have control over who can see your Instagram posts, who can follow you and send you DMs. You can also hide when you have last been active.

Snapchat

Check your privacy settings to choose who can send you Snaps, or view your Stories and location on Snap Map. Be careful what you share. Even though Snaps are designed to disappear, a friend can still grab a screenshot or take a picture with another device.

TikTok

You can control who can view, Duet, Stitch, comment on and download your videos on TikTok. You can also block people and choose who can message you.

Facebook

You can set your profile to private, choose your location settings, choose who sees the people and pages you follow and more.

Your phone

If you think your phone is being monitored by your partner or ex, there are things you can do to cover your tracks:

Do:

  • delete any messages or texts you have sent or received – except for ones from your partner or ex.
  • check the call register on your phone and delete any numbers that could raise suspicion.
  • block any contacts on your phone that you need to.

Do not:

  • save the Women’s Aid helpline number to your phone under that name. If your partner or ex sees it, it could be dangerous. Instead, save the helpline number under a friend’s name, so that it shows up on your call log as a call to a friend.
  • reply to threatening or harassing messages or texts.
  • delete and threatening or harassing messages or texts. These are evidence and you should keep them for the Gardaí.

Your email

If someone has access to your email account they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. Learn more about how to stay safe on email on WomensLaw.org

Do:

  • change your password regularly and choose one that someone will not be able to guess.
  • set up a new email i f you think your partner or ex might know how to access your email. Keep this email address secret.
  • make sure you print and save threatening or harassing emails.

Do not:

  • delete the emails. They are evidence and may help you prove that they have committed a criminal offence. If you have deleted an email they may still be available in your Trash folder.

Your internet use

Your partner or ex might be using spyware to track your internet use or look at your browsing history. If you have Googled information on relationship abuse or the Gardaí it’s important to keep your activity online private.

Make sure you:

If someone is harassing you on social media you can block them so they can’t contact you.

Block someone on:

Instagram – Blocking someone is easy and they won’t be notified that you blocked them.

Snapchat – When you block a friend, they won’t be able to view your Story or Charms, or send you Snaps or Chats. They won’t be notified that you have blocked them.

TikTok – Blocking someone stops them from viewing your videos or engaging with you through direct messages, comments, follows or likes.

Facebook – When you block a profile on Facebook, that profile will no longer be able to tag you or see things that you post on your timeline. They won’t be notified that you have blocked them.

WhatsApp – You can stop receiving messages, calls, and status updates from certain contacts by blocking them. You can also report them if you think they are sending problematic content or spam.

If your account or device is hacked, this means someone has accessed your account without your permission.

How can I tell if I’ve been hacked

  • Your friends receive messages you didn’t send
  • Your details have been changed
  • You get an email from the platform about a sign-in from an unrecognised device
  • You have to login every time you visit the app/website

I’ve been hacked, what do I do? 

  1. Keep a record of any unusual activity you recognise.
  2. Sign out of your account on all devices.
  3. Reset your password.
  4. Change or confirm your password recovery, for example, changing the security questions used to access your account.
  5. Improve your privacy settings to secure your account. See tips on Privacy Online
  6. Check your settings to make sure nothing has been changed e.g. your password or username.
  7. Let your contacts know you were hacked in case they receive any messages from your account.

How to protect myself from being hacked? 

  1. Use two-factor authentication.
  2. Use strong passwords and different passwords for different websites.
  3. Make sure you sign out of your accounts if you use a shared computer in college or the library.

If your partner or ex seems to know where you are or what you’re doing at all times, it might be a sign they are spying on you using spyware. Spyware allows them to monitor your activity online like web pages you have visited, your emails and messages, and track your location.

What is spyware?

Spyware is software that someone can install on your devices, like a phone or laptop, without your consent. The person who has installed the spyware can access your devices from another computer. They may be able to see anything you do on that device, including searching for the spyware or how to get help.

How can I tell if my device has spyware on it?

It is often not possible to tell if the device has spyware on it.

  • If your partner or ex knows information about you that would be difficult to find out by any other means, it might be a sign they are spying on you.
  • If your phone or laptop is running slowly or malfunctioning it could be a sign that your device has spyware on it.

What should I do if I think my device has spyware on it?

Do:

  • use a computer at college or at a friend’s house if you think your partner or ex might be monitoring your devices.

Do not:

  • use your device to look up websites about removing spyware, your partner or ex might become suspicious.
  • use your device to send revealing messages to friends and family, your partner or ex might become suspicious.
  • attempt to remove the spyware as this will raise suspicion. Spyware can be used in evidence against an abusive partner or ex in a court case.

More information on how to spot spyware, and what to do if you think you’re being spied on at TechSafety.org

Online harassment can include:

  • Sending, sharing, or posting hurtful or abusive messages.
  • Posting embarrassing videos or pictures of someone (without their consent).
  • Tagging someone inappropriately in a photo/video.
  • Spreading rumours online.
  • Threatening someone online.

If you or you see someone else being harassed online you can: 

  • Report it to the online platform by clicking Report. If the platform decides behaviour/comments are against their community guidelines they can take action on it. They might  send the user a warning, delete the post or comment, suspend their account, or remove their account entirely. Reporting is anonymous, so the person won’t know that you’ve reported them.
  • If you think you are at risk of serious harm, for example, if a person is posting threats to commit violence, report to the Gardaí immediately.
  • Screenshotting any harmful posts or comments. These can be used as evidence to prove that harassment was taking place.

Exit