Allegations of abuse or malpractice
What should I do if I have been accused of abuse?
Report Harmful Content occasionally receives reports from clients who are dealing with allegations of abuse or malpractice, posted publically to social media. Allegations can be extremely serious, for example sexual harassment, abuse, bullying and hate-speech. Being the target of any allegation is, understandably, stressful. Clients approach RHC asking if we are able to help them remove defamatory comments from social media platforms. The short answer is that we cannot.
Usually, our role as a service is to intervene where reports have already been made to social media without success. In many instances we are able to escalate abusive content directly to social media for review. However, when it comes to allegations made against an individual, we aren't able to mediate in this way. This is because there are instances where allegations turn out to be true and we aren't in the position to be the arbitrators of this. Whilst we have every sympathy for individuals who have been incorrectly accused of abuse and are victims themselves, our service has a duty to safeguard everyone.
If you are dealing with allegations of abuse which you believe to be untrue, there are a number of options we would recommend:
- You can report defamatory comments directly to social media. If comments are abusive or threatening in nature, then there’s a good chance that the platform in question will remove them. Find out how to report content across multiple social media platforms here.
- If reports to social media are unsuccessful, depending on the severity of the allegations made, you might want to seek legal advice. Citizen’s Advice offer guidance on how to access low cost legal assistance.
- If allegations have been made within a workplace setting, ACAS can offer guidance and support for both employees and employers.
- If you are a teacher or any other professional working with young people, we would recommend contacting our sister service The Professionals Online Safety Helpline (POSH). The Department for Education (DfE) also offers guidelines for dealing with allegations of abuse made against school staff.
- If the allegations are criminal in nature, you should seek support from the police.
How do I deal with negative reviews?
In addition to serious allegations, we also receive reports where complaints regarding business and service provision have been made on sites such as TripAdvisor or Google My Business. We understand that it can be frustrating and costly to have to deal with these types of reviews, however RHC is also unable to assist with this this type of content. Whilst not always pleasant, people are entitled to express their views online, particularly when they have paid for a service. RHC are not in the position to moderate individual opinions.
For advice on how to deal with negative reviews online, you might find our article on reputational management useful. Of course, if business reviews contain abuse, threats, hate-speech or privacy violations then they should be reported to RHC via the usual channels.
Things to remember
- Try not to get involved in or respond to allegations as this can be inflammatory and create further issues.
- In many cases it is against the law to harass or victimise whistle blowers.
- It is in your interest to have allegations of abuse officially investigated by a professional body.
- If there is any truth in the allegations, then we would encourage you to be honest with yourself so that you can examine your behaviours and seek support to rectify the situation.
- If you have been emotionally impacted by allegations of abuse, you can get help from a service such as the Samaritans.