Harassment of faculty spokespeople

You have a voice that is important to public conversation. Working with media to promote your research or speaking as a subject matter expert online can sometimes bring unwanted attention from members of the public. If you are a woman, an Indigenous person, a racialized person, an LGBTQIA2S+ person or a disabled person, you are more likely than others to be targeted online by trolling, doxxing, swarming and other forms of harassment. This may also be true if your scholarship or professional affiliations are perceived by persons or groups to be politically contentious.

You are not alone. Here are some resources to support you if you ever experience harassment based on your work or affiliation with SFU.

Navigating Social Media

Social media can be an inspiring, supportive, and fun community, but it also has the potential to invite concerning behaviours, misinformation/disinformation, and critical responses.

Harassment and abuse over social media is difficult to control as perpetrators can be anonymous, hard to trace and often the abuse is acting outside of the authority of the university or local community. This can be challenging to navigate, but there are options to deal with these unwanted behaviours.

Proactive actions you can take:

  • Don’t engage with trolls, etc.
  • Document any harassment– keep copies/screen shots of online messages/emails, keep recording of voicemails, etc.
  • Before you block someone who is harassing you online, it is recommended to contacting Campus Public Safety at safe@sfu.ca.
  • Report abusive behaviour directly to the social media platform. SFU has no authority relating to matters of personal social media abuse, so it’s important to report abusive behaviour directly to the social media platforms so they can take action.
  • Protect your privacy – Use your work-related contact information on social media accounts instead of your personal information (email, phone numbers, etc.), think about the content you post and if it discloses personal information (your home, family members, etc) or if it links to family members social media who may not have secure privacy settings enabled.
  • Secure your online accounts by employing strong and unique passwords across your digital identities and review your privacy settings.
  • Assume that everything shared online is public information, even when privacy settings are enabled.


Reporting to SFU Campus Public Safety

Campus Public Safety (CPS) is available to assist if you feel harassed, or threatened, or if you think the therethere is a potential risk of violence to the campus community, specific individual(s) or groups.

CPS senior leadership can support you by documenting your concerns, assessing risk, developing a threat management plan and a safety plan if necessary. Depending on the type and form of harassment, CPS they may also involve IT Services, University Legal Counsel, VPPEI, and other SFU support offices or law enforcement as required. They can also support you in reporting the incidents or concerns to appropriate authorities and connect you to additional supports and services.

  • For urgent assistance, contact CPS urgent dispatch 24-hour at 778-782-4500.
  • If there is imminent concern of harm, call 9-1-1. Notify CPS after talking to emergency services.
  • For non-urgent assistance, email safe@sfu.ca

Additional SFU support services