Sometimes we do things and say things about other people online that we aren’t proud of, that we regret or that we know deep down isn’t right. It’s quick and easy to send a snap or message, write a comment or share something in a group chat that we didn’t take the time to think about how it might make that person feel.

It might be something that seemed like a joke at the time, something that you didn’t think anyone else would see, or something that you did when you were angry. You might have just joined in on something because everyone else was doing it. Recognising that something you’ve done doesn’t feel quite right is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean you should dwell on it. We can’t change the past, but luckily, we can choose which actions we take next – check out our tips for making things right.  

1. Delete what you can

If the post or comment is still somewhere online, delete it if you can. It can be hurtful for the person affected if they are being reminded of something that was said about them because they know it’s still online, even after it’s happened. If you know that other people are still sharing it around, you can ask them to stop if you feel comfortable.

2. Let them know you’re sorry

Reach out to the person and apologise to them. It can be hard to say sorry, but it can be really important for the other person. It doesn’t have to be a long apology, you just need to let them know that you’re sorry for any hurt or embarrassment you might have caused. If they come back to you with an angry or upset response they might not be ready to mend things yet, so just leave it at that – at least you’ve let them know.

3. Think about what you’d do next time

Take a minute to think about the situation, what happened and what you could do differently next time. This way, you’re prepared and know what to do if it happens again. Here’s a few tips for situations that might crop up:

Your friends are being mean about someone in a group chat: Don’t join in. If you’re talking about a situation that’s OK, but you don’t need to make mean comments or personal attacks about the people involved while you do it.

Someone has said something mean about someone you care about: Take a deep breath and think. You don’t want to do something out of anger because it could make the situation worse for the person you care about.  Most social media platforms let you report content or accounts that are acting against their community guidelines, so report it if you can. If it’s happening often to them read our advice about helping a friend who is being bullied online.

Your friends are joking around about someone in the group and you’re not sure if it’s going too far: It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between banter and bullying. Having a laugh with your friends is a normal part of most friendships, but how do you know when the roast has gone too far? We’ve put together some tips so you can tell the difference.

4. Spread some positivity

You might have done something in the past that you don’t feel great about, but you can do something that makes you feel good right now. You never know who might need a little bit of positivity today. You could message or send a snap to someone that you haven’t heard from in a while just to say hello, comment something kind or encouraging on a friend’s post, leave a nice comment on Sarahah – or even just post an encouraging or inspiration quote online. Every day is a new start and although you can’t always control the circumstances around you, you can control how you react to them.

Contact Netsafe

If you or someone you know needs help or advice about something that’s happened online, you can contact us seven days a week.

Our contact centre is open 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, and 9am – 5pm on weekends and public holidays.  

If you’re concerned about the immediate safety of you or someone else, call 111. 

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