A number of social workers have found their images and details published on anti-social work ‘hate’ sites recently.
The situation is understandably distressing but there are steps you can take to report abuse or harassment. So what action should you take if you find yourself named on one of these sites?
1. Alert your employer
Alert your employer – they have a duty of care to you. They should have procedures in place on how to deal with members of the public who are abusive to social workers or assault them.
The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) advice is that responsible employers should regard harassment of a social worker by these sites “as a type of assault”.
These sites often publish defamatory information about social workers. Make your employer aware of the potential legal issues here.
If your reputation is being tarnished by inaccurate and discriminatory information being published, your employer’s legal department may be able to take action against the site or its publishers.
2. Contact your professional body
For additional support contact your professional body. BASW has been active in raising awareness of these sites and may be able to provide further advice on how to deal with your employer.
The College of Social Work has also contacted employers over the issue in the past.
Contact details for the main professional bodies are:
3. Report the site as abusive
Anti-social work sites have appeared on different platforms including Facebook, Youtube, and hosted websites. Depending on who hosts the site you will need to follow slightly different steps.
Here is how to report abuse on some of the most common platforms:
- Facebook: If you have a Facebook account go the Facebook page you feel is abusive, click the dropdown menu and select ‘report page’. If you don’t have a Facebook account you can still report violating pages here.
- Youtube: You can report harassment and hate speech here. Youtube’s community guidelines state: “There is zero tolerance of predatory behaviour, stalking, threats, harassment, invading privacy or the revealing of other members’ personal information.”
- Twitter: If you receive threatening messages via Twitter you can report the user here.
- Website: If the website is not part of an established social media platform you can lodge a complaint with the domain provider, you just need to know who to contact. You can find out who registered the domain by conducting a quick WhoIS search here. The ‘registrar’ of the site is likely to be the company you need to contact to report abuse.
4. Consider lodging a complaint with the police
If you feel you are in danger or are being harassed you can lodge a complaint with your local police force. Find the details for your local force here.
5. Review your Facebook privacy settings
Some social work hate sites have posted images and details gathered from social workers’ personal Facebook profiles. It’s a reminder of just how accessible a lot of information posted on the social network is and the need to review your privacy settings.
This short video takes you through the privacy settings process and how to adjust yours to a level you’re comfortable with.
You can also check out our social media dos and don’ts for social workers.