If you are the target of online bullying, abuse, harassment or criminal behaviour, you may want to capture digital evidence of what’s been going on. While it may seem like deleting the content is the quickest solution, it may be useful to ask Netsafe or a law enforcement agency for advice first. Get our advice on how to record digital evidence now. 

Record the URL (web address)

Each page on the internet has a unique URL that allows it to be discovered on the internet. This is the address that you see at the top of the webpage you are on. It often starts with the letters http or https.

Write down or copy the entire address. Make sure you get the full address, even if it looks like a random jumble of letters and numbers. Lets say for example you are using a website called “funnysocialmediasite.com” and you find something upsetting at a page with this address:

https://www.funnysocialmediasite.com/post/users/id=?23456thuopif&user=fgtyukl

It is not enough to record that the page was at “www.funnysocialmediasite.com” you must record the entire address. Right down to the end (…fgtyukl).

Keep a copy of emails

When you open an email, you generally are shown only the address details and the content of the message. You should copy the contents of the message first and store it in a file with the date and time it was received.

You should then grab the “headers” from the message. These are the instructions that are sent along with emails to identify where they have come from and who they are intended for. Headers can be shown in different ways depending on how you access your emails.

Below are some instructions produced by the Department of Internal Affairs on how to capture the headers for different email systems.

If yours in not shown below, or you have any questions about this, contact Netsafe for more advice.

Screenshot the content

You should also take a screenshot of the content where possible. This is useful to keep as digital evidence, in case the content is deleted from the web – if it’s deleted from the web then the URL you’ve recorded won’t show the content.

The exception to this is if you think the content may be “objectionable”. If you think this is the case, DO NOT copy the content as this is illegal. Contact Netsafe or the Department of Internal affairs immediately for advice on what to do next.

  • iOS (iPhones, iPads, iPods): Press the power button on the top right corner of your device and at the same time, press the home button. The screen should flash, and if you have sound enabled you will hear a camera shutter sound. You should then find the picture with the rest of your images in the Photos App on your device.
  • Android: If you are running a newer version of Android you should try either pressing the Down Volume Key and the Power key at the same time or sliding the side of your hand across the screen from left to right. Your image will then be saved into your photo gallery. If you are running an older version of Android (Before 2.3) you will need to install a screen shot app from the Play Store.
    Windows: Press the Print Screen Button on your keyboard. This may be labelled as PrtScn, or Prtn Scrn or Print Scn, and is most often found at the top right of your keyboard. This will copy your entire screen to your clipboard. You will then need to “paste” (Ctrl + V) the image into a document to save it for future reference.
  • OSX (Apple Computers): Press CMD, Shift and 3 at the same time. This will take a shot of your entire screen and save it to your desktop

Capture how the content made you feel

While taking the digital evidence, it’s also really important you take the time to capture how the content and the experience you are having makes you feel.

CONTACT NETSAFE

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, please call 111. If you want help or expert incident advice, you can contact us. Our service is free, non-judgemental and available seven days a week.

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