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Glitch Glossary

Online abuse is not a new phenomenon and the terms and language we use to describe our experiences of harm online continue to evolve. Here are terms related to online abuse that are important to know, so that you can join other digital citizens in spotting, reporting and stopping the abuse that thrives online.

Catfishing: Creating a fake online persona to deceive others, often for the purpose of forming deceptive romantic relationships or engaging in other forms of fraud.

Cyberbullying: Bullying or harassment that takes place over digital devices, often through social media, messaging apps, or online forums.

Cyberstalking: Using the internet or other digital means to repeatedly harass or intimidate an individual, often with the intent of causing fear or distress.

Digital Blackface: The phenomenon where non-Black individuals use Black cultural expressions, mannerisms, or language online, often in a performative or stereotypical manner, which can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and undermine Black voices and experiences.

Digital Citizenship: The practice of engaging respectfully, critically and competently in all digital spaces.

Digital Self-care: Actively setting and communicating boundaries in digital spaces to make online experiences more positive, respectful and safe for yourself and others.

Digital Self-defence: A way of using digital tools to be safer in online spaces. These can include strong passwords, two-factor authentication, anti-virus software and using privacy options on any platform that asks for your information.

Dis-information: False information shared with intent to cause harm.

Doxxing: Publishing private or identifying information about an individual online without their consent, often with malicious intent.

Gaslighting: Manipulative behaviour aimed at making someone question their own perceptions, memory, or sanity, often by denying the reality of their experiences or feelings.

Hate Speech: Speech that promotes hatred or violence against individuals or groups based on characteristics such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

Harassment: Persistent and unwanted behaviour that causes distress or discomfort to an individual, often including creepy messages, threats, insults, or intimidation.

Impersonation: Pretending to be someone else online, often to deceive or defraud others, or to damage the reputation of the person being impersonated.

Intersectionality: Understanding how different social and political identities overlap (like race, gender, class, religion or other individual characteristics), creating different experiences of discrimination or privilege.

Mal-information: True information shared with intent to cause harm.

Mis-information: False information shared without intent of harm.

Misogynoir: A term specific to the intersection of racism and sexism experienced by Black women, referring to the unique forms of discrimination and marginalisation they face online and offline.

Online Abuse: Any form of harmful behaviour conducted through digital platforms, including harassment, cyberbullying, hate speech, and other forms of harmful content.

Online Active Bystander: Someone who safely intervenes to support a person experiencing online abuse. This can look like reporting harmful online behaviour, offering support to the person experiencing abuse and educating others on how to intervene safely.

Online Gender Based Violence: Any forms of online abuse, from harmful comments to inciting violence, which focuses on or makes reference to a person’s actual or perceived sex or gender identity.

Racialised Misogyny: The specific combination of racism and misogyny directed at Black women, often manifesting in online abuse such as targeted harassment, hate speech, and dehumanising stereotypes.

Revenge Porn: Sharing sexually explicit images or videos of an individual without their consent, typically after a relationship has ended, as a form of revenge or harassment.

Swatting: Making a false report to emergency services, such as claiming a hostage situation or violent crime is occurring at the victim’s address, with the intent of prompting a heavily armed police response to the location.

Tech Accountability: Holding powerful forces in tech accountable for creating safe online spaces.

Trolling: Posting deliberately provocative or offensive messages online with the aim of eliciting strong emotional responses or disrupting conversation.