How to stay on the right side of the line… online

Person sitting on a rooftop looking at laptop with city skyline in lowlight in the background

Ever scrolled through the comments and just lost all hope for the human race...?

Screenshot of Twitter comment that says fuck you @nameblocked i know what you've been saying about me, you're a lying bitch

Or have you seen someone sharing personal, intimate info about their ex, their partner or their mate to ‘get back at them’? And then watched as everyone started Liking and commenting and taking sides and it turns into a vicious online dog-fight?

GIF of Joey from Friends with a shocked expression.

Yeah, this isn’t ok. It’s not funny or trivial or something you should just let slide when you see it. Online abuse is serious and can be dangerous and illegal.

People say and share all kinds of stuff online that they [Heads up: this video is kind of intense and may be triggering/offensive to some viewers>] wouldn’t do in person – when either way, it’s never ok!

So, here are our golden rules to help you NOT be an abusive tool online...


1. DON'T... share other people's bizness!

When you receive a photo or message, it stays with you. The sender can show or tell other people if they want – that's their right – but it's not yours. 

GIF of man from Making the Cut reality show shaking head and saying NO.

2. DON'T... ignore their line.

You have your line, other people have theirs – you might be cool with sharing images of yourself, but when someone else says they’re not, or they don’t want you sharing an image of them, just don't.

And if someone says they don't want an image of them or something about them online that you’ve already put out there, then take it down – now. Respect where other people draw their line.

GIF of Jay-Z shaking his finger to say 'No'

3. DON’T... pass it on or hype it up.

Even if you didn't start the forwarding of the image, sending it on is still not cool. It’s spreading and increasing the problem, and inflicting more damage on the person in question. Be the one who stops the spread – be the righteous road-blocker. 


1. DO... call out the crap.

If you can, call out any crap behaviour you see online. It's highly likely the person being attacked could use a helping hand. Being a strong person means stepping up and saying Nope. This is super true if the person being the abuser is someone you know.

Don’t get abusive - even when you’re doing the right thing by calling out crap or abusive behaviour. Try to keep the conversations cool, calm and chill...

GIF of young man headbanging wildly to music

Consider messaging the person targeted too, saying something like:

‘Hey, what they did/said was not cool - I hope you’re ok’.

2. DO... take it out of the public eye.

If you have something to get off your chest, talk to them directly. Be respectful and focus on finding a solution. If you're too angry to do that, then wait til you've cooled down.

If you've already posted harmful stuff online, delete it. And then apologise to the person or people affected.

GIF of President Obama looking like he's heard something stupid

3. DO... walk away for a bit

Take a moment to think about the way your actions and words online might impact others, i.e. empathising.

And if you’re commenting or Liking someone’s stuff online and they’re telling you to leave them alone or ignoring you over and over, just back off. Even when you think you're right. Even when you’re just trying to help...

GIF of Homer Simpson backing into a bush

If you want help, support or just a better understanding of issues with online abuse, visit the eSafety Commissioner. Their site includes a page on how to report image-based abuse.

If you’re after help or support check out the Headspace website or call them on 1800 650 890.

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