Wave of Denunciation on Social Media: What to Do When You Are Accused of Sexual Harassment on the Web?

August 12th, 2020

The ripple effect of the #MeToo movement which started in 2017 has resulted in numerous further waves of denunciation in the online world. Victims are turning to social media for the empowerment (and sometimes anonymity) that it takes to go public about their alleged experiences.

Facebook and Instagram are especially popular platforms for alleged victims to name their harassers, and fellow users of the social media apps and sites are usually generous with their clicks of support, comments, and sharing of the posts even when they are not familiar with the victim, the accused, or the situation.

This readily available stage from which to broadcast one’s sexual harassment story, the ease of wide dissemination, and safety of anonymity has resulted in an uptick in the number of people being accused of sexual harassment on the web.

So what do you do when you have been accused of sexually harassing or assaulting someone and that accusation is circulating on the internet and social media? Here are a few things to consider if you find yourself in this uncomfortable (and often unfair and unjustified) position.

Damage Control
The first thing to do when you are accused of sexual harassment online is to seek appropriate legal counsel. An accusation can have a dramatic and long lasting impact on your criminal record, employment options, and relationships including spousal, friends, family and even limit your rights to be with your children. As such, it’s vital that you seek a qualified lawyer to help contain the possible destruction and control the unnecessary degrees of damage that an accusation can cause.

Grab a Pen
The next most important thing for an accused person to take if someone has called them out on social media for sexual harassment or sexual assault is to sit down and document every detail of the situation that is possible. Write down everything you remember that can support your claim regarding dates, times and situations when you came in contact with the accuser.

Tips for jogging your memory include checking the GPS and map apps on your mobile devices, receipts from purchases including products and services, looking at your phone logs for calls, texts and e-mail messages sent.

Pause social media activity; don’t delete.
Especially when it comes to social media, it is so very tempting to delete accounts or remove content including photos, posts, comments, follows, etc. This is NOT what you should do if you are accused of sexual harassment on social media. Deleting or altering content or accounts could work against the defense of your case.

Instead, take these quick steps to mitigate the spread of your profile and content on social media after being accused of sexual assault:
• Set your social media privacy settings to a private, not public account
• Do not delete any accounts
• Do not delete or edit any previously posted content on your channels
• Refrain from engaging with any posts or content about the accusation about you
• Take screenshots of any posts or content about the accusation that are posted from other social media accounts so that you have proof even if the posts are deleted by the other user

If you have questions about what you should do about a sexual harassment accusation against you on social media, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to help.