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Using social media to share your Cambridge achievements, news or research with public audiences can bring lots of positives. For professional services staff, it can lead to opportunities to showcase thought leadership in your area of expertise. For academics and students, it can lead to collaborations, more downloads and citations of your work and wider awareness of your findings outside of academia.

But social media can be a challenging place too. Some people may not always have positive things to say about your ideas. Discussion and debate can often become heated. Sometimes accounts exist purely to stir up controversy around specific topics.

How to protect yourself from trolling, personal attacks or targeted harassment 

There are some steps you can take to protect yourself if you experience repeated trolling, personal attacks or targeted harassment.

Tell leaders and colleagues

Let your leaders and colleagues know what is happening. This may include:

  • Supervisor
  • Senior Tutor
  • Head of Department
  • Department HR Officer
  • Department manager
  • Department/College Communications Manager

Include links and screenshots so they can see.


Contact the Social Media, Research Communications and Media teams in OEAC to let them know what is happening. They will do their best to provide you with advice as quickly as possible.

Don’t feed the trolls

Avoid getting into back-and-forth arguments with anonymous accounts, journalists or campaigners. It’s very unlikely that they will be won around by your argument. Every response you give encourages them to reply again. This may increase the likelihood of it becoming a negative media story, which can attract even more unwanted attention.

Make your accounts private and safe

Consider making your own profiles private rather than public to stop new unwanted comments and engagements. Ensure your passwords are strong and you have two-factor authentication set up. Check the direct-messaging settings for your social-media accounts to limit who can message you.


Block the accounts to stop seeing their content and to stop them seeing yours.

Report it to the platforms

Consider reporting abusive messages to the social media platforms.

Report it to the police

If a person sends you threatening, abusive or offensive messages on social media, they could be committing an offence. You can report harassment, malicious messaging or distribution of private sexual images without consent to the Police online or by calling 101. Read advice from the Metropolitan Police.

Get some space

Sign out of your accounts and uninstall the apps on your devices for a few days to take a breather from notifications and messages. If it is important to monitor comments, consider asking a colleague to look out for anything they consider needs responding to or reporting.

Seek support

Talk to friends, family, the Staff Counselling Centre or the Student Counselling Centre. This can help to manage stress and anxiety.

More resources 


Social media team inbox:

Research Communications team inbox:

Media team inbox:

If you are concerned the media may report on the matter, or if you receive any enquiries from journalists, you can reach the University Media Team on For urgent and out-of-hours calls only, phone +44 (0)7879 116949.