1: What is cyber-harassment?

Cyber-harassment is any action carried out on the Internet or other forms of electronic or digital devices (eg. phone, laptop, tablet, etc.) that makes a person feels threatened, distressed or humiliated to a point where it creates an unsafe environment for that person.

Some examples of cyber-harassment are:

  • someone stalking Stalking:
    There is no strict legal definition of stalking but there are examples to demonstrate the action such as following a person, watching or spying on them or forcing contact with the victim through any means, including social media.
    (Source: Crown Prosecution Service, UK)
    you on your Instagram;
  • abusive comments targeting you on your YouTube channel;
  • being blackmailed Blackmail:
    The act of getting money from people or forcing them to do something by threatening to tell a secret of theirs or to harm them.
    (Source: Cambridge dictionary)
    on your WhatsApp;
  • having your private information such as address, telephone number, identity card number shared on Facebook without your permission or knowledge;
  • receiving death or rape threat via Twitter;
  • finding a nude photo of yourself which was sent to your ex-boyfriend a month ago on Google’s search engine when you key in your name;
  • discovering that someone has created an Instagram account using your name and photos without your permission or knowledge;
  • someone using your email account without your permission or knowledge;
  • receiving hate text messages by an unknown person on your phone continuously; and
  • receiving sexually explicit content on your Facebook Messenger from a colleague at work which makes you feel uneasy.

2: Is cyber-bullying the same as cyber-harassment?

Cyber-bullying is a form of cyber-harassment. Some international sources have defined the former as a conduct carried out by a child against another child while the latter between adults. The tactics, intentions and effects of cyber-bullying and cyber-harassment are quite different too.

For more information, please click on this Infographic to help you understand cyber-harassment and cyber-bullying.

3: What comments are considered abusive?

Abusive comments are those that promote or provoke violence, hatred or discrimination against an individual/group because of their:

  • Race;
  • Religion;
  • Disability;
  • Nationality;
  • Gender;
  • Age;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender identity;
  • Social or economic status;
  • Political beliefs; etc.

4: Am I being harassed if someone is sexting Sexting:
The sending of sexually explicit messages or images by cell phone.
me or sending me a dick pic Dick pic:
Picture showing an exposed penis.

It depends on how you feel about the sexting and picture. If it makes you feel uncomfortable, humiliated or distressed and you wish that you have not received them, you are being harassed.

On the other hand, if you don’t mind them or even enjoy receiving them, you are not being harassed.

5: Am I a victim of cyber-harassment if someone disagrees with my comment on Facebook and calls me stupid?

Expression of disagreement or criticism is not harassment. You should not expect everybody to agree with you. However, the way someone criticises or disagrees with you can sometimes turn into harassment. For instance, if someone purposely finds every chance to disagree with you just to provoke or shame you non-stop (for eg. trolling Trolling:
Member of an online social community who deliberately tries to disrupt, attack, offend or generally cause trouble within the community by posting certain comments, photos, videos, GIFs or some other form of online content.
, calling you names like stupid, retard or bodoh, etc.) to a point where you feel distressed or degraded, you are a victim of cyber-harassment.

6: When should I start taking online death or rape threats seriously?

There is no straightforward answer because all cases are unique and should be judged individually based on the context. However, you should always trust your own instinct as no one else knows better what you are going through or how you feel more than you.

Answer the questions below to help you judge whether these threats could be serious or not. If you answer “yes” to at least one of the questions below, you might want to be more careful and not just ignore them:

  • Are the threats parts of a larger group of individuals who have expressed their anger with you online?
  • Has your home or work address been recently published on the Internet or other printed materials such as leaflets, etc.? Or has it been included in the threats as well?
  • Do the threats come with detailed description of how the person will harm you (for eg. knife, shooting, strangulation, etc.)?
  • Is the harasser sending repeated messages showing that he/she is emotionally targeting you? For eg. “How could you do this to me? I thought we had something special. I feel betrayed. Pay attention, NO ONE betrays me and gets away with it.”
  • Does the threat include information of your daily routine, habits, friends or family that can’t easily be found online?

7: Who is PeopleACT?

PeopleACT stands for People against Cyber Threats/Harassment. It is an UndiMsia! intiative run by a group of human rights defenders from different non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Malaysia. Its mission is to make the cyber environment a safer, more respectful and empowering space for Malaysians through stretegic legistrative advocacy Strategic legistrative advocacy:
A campaign that uses effective methods and approaches, aimed at influencing a change in the law on a specific issue that would leave a positive impact on the public.
and public awareness campaign.

8: What is this kit for?

This kit is created to provide relevant and useful information to those who:

  • have been or are being harassed on the Internet or their electronic device;
  • wants to know what to do and where to get help if they or someone else shall experience cyber-harassment; and
  • wants to know how to prevent cyber-harassment.

9: What is in the kit?

It contains a step-by-step guide on:

  • how to deal with cyber-harassment;
  • who to report it to;
  • how to minimise the risk of cyber-harassment; and
  • where to get support.

It also provides useful guidance on how you can respond to your harasser, document the harassment, and other additional resources on surviving cyber-harassment.

10: When should I use this kit?

You should use this kit when:

  • you are unsure whether you are being harassed online;
  • you are experiencing cyber-harassment and do not know what to do;
  • someone you know is experiencing cyber-harassment and would like to know what to do; or
  • you want to know what steps you can take to prevent cyber-harassment.

The kit can also be used as a resource for parents, teachers, counsellors, employers, etc. to help them deal with cyber-harassment at home, school and the workplace.

11: Am I protected by the laws in Malaysia if I am being cyber-harassed?

Currently, there is no law in Malaysia that deals specifically with cyber-harassment. However, some online abusive conducts can be dealt with using the following:

  • Penal Code prohibits obscene or indecent communications with the intention of insulting one’s modesty such as sexual harassment, as well as criminal intimidation such as blackmail, death or rape threat.
  • Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 prohibits online content that is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character. This could be used for online sexual harassment, hateful comments and death or rape threats.
  • Employment (Amendment) Act 2012 deals with the offence of sexual harassment within the work place.
  • Computer Crimes Act 1997 regulates illegal access to computer materials such as hacking and spying.
  • Copyright Act 1987 protects the ownership of original work such as photographs and videos created by you; eg. selfies. This means another person is prohibited from sharing or distributing that work without your consent. This can possibly be applied to non-consensual pornography/revenge porn.
  • Defamation Act 1957 provides remedy to those whose reputation has been damaged or injured in the eyes of the public such as hateful speech.


The Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights
A-3A-8, Pantai Business Park, Jalan Pantai Baharu, 59200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
(Office opening hours: Monday – Friday, 9:30am – 5:30pm)

Telephone: +60 3-2201 1454
Email: [email protected]

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