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:
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.
- iOS (iPhones, iPads): Press the power button on the top right corner of your device and at the same time, press the home button (if you older device has one) which would save the screenshot to your photos. For newer Apple devices, click the volume up and lock button at the same time. This will show a pop-up in the bottom left corner to save/share/edit. The screen should flash, and if you have sound enabled you will hear a camera shutter sound.
- 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 can then “paste” (Ctrl + V) the image into a document to save it for future reference. If you have Windows 8 or above installed on your computer/laptop, you can press the Windows Key + Print Screen together, as this saves the image directly to your Pictures\Screenshots folder.
- 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
The exception to screenshot recording 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.
When should you NOT store or share the content?
To access our help, you should not send or share with Netsafe, or anyone else, content that is “objectionable” such as:
- Intimate or sexualised content involving a young person under the age of 18;
- Explicit content;
- Acts of torture or the infliction of extreme violence or extreme cruelty;
- The use of violence or coercion to compel any person to participate in, or submit to, sexual conduct; or
- Any other content defined as objectionable under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act.
It is illegal in New Zealand to store, send or share objectionable content.
There are information (records) that you can share with Netsafe that will help us with handling your report:
- URLs/links to where the content is hosted if it is online
- Usernames or other identifying information about who may have requested or shared this material
- Provide screenshots of any text-based message that may accompany the intimate images e.g. a message from someone requesting an image, or a comment on an image that has been posted online. Do not screenshot or share screenshots if any of the intimate content can be seen
If you are able to do any of the following to the images, then you can then share the edited content with Netsafe:
- Black out sensitive images on a computer using MS paint
- Scribble over images with a photo editing app
- Crop images on a photo editing app
How to “blank out” objectionable content before sending it to us
Using Microsoft Paint on a Windows Computer
- Open MS Paint and load the image you wish to black out.
- Select the “Rectangular selection” tool and use it to create a box around the area you want to black out.
- Click on the “Fill with color” tool and select the black color.
- Click inside the selection box to fill it with black color.
- Save the edited image by going to “File” and selecting “Save as” and choose the file format you want.
Using a Photo Editing App on your phone to ‘scribble out’ an image
- Open your preferred photo editing app and load the image you want to scribble out.
- Select the “Brush” tool and choose a brush size that suits the area you want to cover.
- Choose the color you want to use for the scribble out effect. Typically, people use red or black.
- Once you have your brush size and color selected, start scribbling over the area you want to cover. Use short, quick strokes to ensure that the effect is uniform throughout.
- Save the edited image by going to “File” and selecting “Save as” and choose the file format you want. That’s it! Your image is now scribbled out in the selected area.
Using a Photo Editing App on your phone to crop an image
- Start by opening the app and loading the image you want to crop.
- Select the “Crop” tool from the toolbar, and then click and drag the edges of the crop box to adjust the size and shape of the crop. You can also use the corner handles to maintain the aspect ratio while resizing.
- Once you are happy with the crop, click the “Apply” or “OK” button to finalize the changes.
Save the edited image by going to “File” and selecting “Save as” and choose the file format you want.
Finally, 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.
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.
- Email [email protected]
- Call toll free on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723)
- Online report at netsafe.org.nz/report
- Text ‘Netsafe’ to 4282