Instant Messenger Harassment

Written by Serena Berger
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Instant messenger harassment is a problem for both home computer users and businesses. While instant messaging has become one of the most common ways many individuals choose to communicate, there are some users of instant messaging programs who may make unwelcome advances toward other users in chat rooms or by contacting them directly. Whatever software you choose to use for instant messaging, you should be sure that you know what procedures to follow in the event of harassment.

Most consumer instant messaging programs give you the option to block individuals based on screen name. For even greater security, you can set these programs to let only those people whom you list as contacts send messages to you. You can also "warn" users with many instant messaging programs if their comments are inappropriate. Users that are warned a high number of times may have their activity limited automatically by the service provider.

In the event that you receive harassing messages, you should use the timestamp function and log your messages. You can then send a copy of the message to the service provider if the activity continues. Of course, by that point in time, it would be much easier to block the user by adjusting your privacy settings. It often depends on whether you feel that the person is simply annoying or actually threatening or potentially dangerous and offensive to others as well.

Instant Messenger Harassment and the Workplace

People using instant messenger programs at work face the same concerns that all other computer users face in dealing with instant messenger harassment. Employers, however, may want to restrict employees' use of consumer instant message programs to minimize problems. Not only can they distract individuals from working, but if an employee is harassing someone from work it can damage the company's reputation. Companies interested in using instant messaging as a means of communicating within the network should look at business instant messaging software packages that provide administrators with greater control to minimize harassment potential from inside or outside the network.

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