Social media: safety and wellbeing

Harassment and bullying online 

Online harassment, or even dealing with negative content online, can be distressing. It threatens the wellbeing of our community, our freedom of expression and the ability to participate fully in conversation and community. 

The University of Oxford does not tolerate the abuse or harassment of members of its community, online or otherwise. The University is committed to fostering an inclusive culture which promotes equality, values diversity and maintains a working, learning and social environment in which the rights and dignity of all are respected. Oxford's full harassment policy is available on the EDU website.

If you or your department are experiencing harassment online, or if you are supporting a staff member who is, please ensure you: 

  • Don’t reply
  • Keep the messages – even if you don’t read them, they may be needed later for reporting purposes
  • Seek advice & report. You can:
    • Speak to your communications lead or the PAD team, who can provide you with support and discuss options for reporting content as well as recording abuse
    • Discuss with your HR lead, who may be able to advise on wellbeing support
    • Explore formal options for reporting harassment, including via the University’s harassment resources or, if appropriate, to the police

General community management guidance 

Communications colleagues should refer to guidance on community management for more general information on how to reply to comments, manage spam, set up filters and set expectations online.  

Remember that you don’t have to respond to them. 

  • Report trolling accounts and messages to the social media platform. 
  • If you feel threatened or believe a criminal act has taken place, always report it to the police. 
  • Make your line manager/communications lead aware. They may be able to provide you with further support and guidance. 
  • Mute trolling accounts – this feature is useful as it hides the troll from your feed without them being aware they have been 'muted'. 
  • 'Hide' comments. Note that the platform X currently has a section on each post which shows hidden tweets. 
  • Block trolling accounts as a last resort. This stops the poster seeing your posts, and 
  • vice versa. However, the blocked account will know they have been blocked, and may take offence. 
  • Turn off your notifications. 
  • Take a break from social media. 

If you feel you or your department/accounts are being targeted on social media, please get in touch with the PAD social media team as well as your local comms lead. We can help by: 

  • Providing support on how to manage social media during challenging times. 
  • Showing you how best to report social media posts and accounts. 
  • Explaining some of the features you can use to minimise the visibility of trolls on your feed. 
  • Providing solutions on how to minimise potential of abuse on social media.  

Although the social media team can provide some support, there are certain elements which are beyond the team’s control: 

  • The University cannot publicly back or reply to individuals/organisations on your behalf. 
  • PAD cannot force social media platforms to remove certain posts – we can only report and explain why we feel the post needs to be removed. 
  • The University cannot force social media platforms to ban certain individuals or groups. 
  • PAD can’t report individuals/organisations to the police. Only you can report issues to the police. 


Please note that the University cannot generally get involved in commenting on the issues themselves – particularly where academic findings and opinions are a matter for public debate. 

Social media can be a relentless environment. If you are monitoring social media channels, ensure you take regular breaks. 

The University can offer support if social media abuse is harming your wellbeing. Please speak to your line manager, your communications lead and/or your HR lead, who will be able to offer more advice in the first instance. Your team may be able to facilitate wellbeing support, while your comms lead may be able to help or advise on reporting online behaviour via the appropriate channels.  

If you believe that a criminal act has taken place or feel threatened, please report the account and content to the police. 

Top tips: 

  • Take breaks from social media – even for a few hours. 
  • If your team has the resource, try to alternate the person monitoring comments and feeds during times of challenging social media sentiment. 

Social media security should be an important part of your plans; if your security is compromised this could lead to serious credibility and reputational issues that you and the University may have to deal with after.  

As a starting point, we recommend that you always limit the number of people who have direct access to your accounts.  

However, there are other ways you can keep your accounts secure:  

  • Create strong, unique passwords  
  • Implement two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts  
  • Keep track of who has access to your accounts  
  • Change your passwords when someone who has access to your social channels leaves the team 

For more guidance on online security, see Information Security’s guidance on staying safe online

Personal security on social media 

Be mindful of what you share across different social platforms. Trolls may search your name on several platforms and find information that you may not want the wider public to be aware of.  

In addition to using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, please consider removing and avoiding personal details or any potential 'doxxing' information, or personal information that could be published online against your will:  

  • Turn off the option to share your location when you post (including on ‘non- work’ platforms such as fitness or dating apps). 
  • Avoid sharing pictures of your family and loved ones. 
  • In your social media bio, if you want to include a location, we suggest putting ‘Oxford’ so it’s not a definitive location. We strongly recommend you do not share the address of your department. 
  • If you share pictures of your home or office, be mindful of what can be identified. Can people identify a door number, the road you live or work on, or the car you drive? 

Contact us

For more information about social media at Oxford, contact the PAD social media team: