WetenschapVeilig: What should you do when faced with online intimidation?

When you appear in the media as a researcher, it can lead to positive responses. However, you may also face harsh criticism or attacks. These reactions are sometimes aimed at you personally, and they may be intimidating, or even threatening. Who can you contact for help or advice?

If you feel threatened after a media appearance on your area of expertise, you can contact the following people for help or advice:

  1. In case of acute emergency, call 112.
  2. Outside office hours: WetenschapVeilig central national hotline: www.wetenschapveilig.nl 
  3. During office hours: Radboud University confidential advisor

What else can you do when faced with online or in-person threats, intimidation, and hateful reactions?

Before you seek publicity for your research, you can prepare yourself in the following ways:

  • Talk to your colleagues about the potential consequences of publicity for your research. It is always up to you whether you seek publicity for your research.
  • Find out beforehand what information is available about you on the Internet. Think of your address, photographs of where you live, or who your partner is. Is there any private information online that could be protected? For advice, please contact us at communicatie [at] ru.nl ().

Should I respond or not?

If your research appears in the media and leads to reactions:

  • You can, if you want, respond to content-related criticism, so that others can read it too. 
  • It is OK to stop responding at some point. 
  • Never respond to clear intimidation or threats.
  • Do not respond to anonymous accounts.

What if there are a lot of negative reactions?

  • Try to avoid the temptation to read all the negative messages. You are not obliged to, and it is rarely constructive. 
  • If you are the object of online or in-person threats, intimidation or hateful reactions, or if you suspect you might be, take a screenshot of the message. In that way, you will have proof, even if the sender deletes the message later.
  • Know that you are not alone:
    • Inform your supervisor
    • Contact the Radboud University spokesperson
    • You can decide, in consultation, whether any follow-up steps are necessary, such as reporting the incident to the police and/or to the social media platforms.
    • If you are strongly affected by threatening incidents, you can seek support, for example by contacting the confidential advisor or the campus psychologist. Your HR advisor can advise you on these matters.

Regulations