Making social media work for you with visible difference

The sometimes toxic world of social media can be challenging if you have a visible difference. But with the right knowledge, you can make it work for you.

Social media can be particularly challenging for people who are living a visible difference. It can encourage us to compare ourselves to others and leave us open to bullying and harassment.

However, there is a lot you can do to make social media a safer and healthier environment for you. Here, we look at the different ways of making social media work for you if you have a visible difference.

Culture and body image

We know that social media, TV, films and magazines encourage us to compare ourselves to other people. This is unhelpful as the images we see are often altered to give an unrealistic view of how people look in “real life”. What’s more, the people depicted often represent a certain kind of “attractiveness” and create the false impression that people should look a certain way.

Almost everyone makes unhelpful comparisons, and it can make us feel upset, anxious, or angry. Many people, whether they have a visible difference or not, suffer problems to do with body image which is fed by our often superficial media culture. It can be particularly hard for people who look different, who are under-represented in popular culture.

Social media and visible difference

Social media can be a particular problem because people often try to reflect dominant views of what it is to look good or be happy. We all know that person who constantly posts pictures of themselves tanned, looking “good” and smiling on a beach or out with friends.

This doesn’t necessarily represent how they feel but it can make others feel concerned. If you have a visible difference, this narrow view of what it looks like to lead a happy life can make you feel left out or emphasise the feeling that you are different from other people. The way people present themselves online is not always the reality. It’s important to remember this when making social media work for you.

How do you feel after you have been on social media?

If you notice that you are feeling down, worried or anxious after using social media, this may be a sign that you need to use it less or differently. Consider these questions:

  • Do you notice that your mood is low after spending time on social media?
  • Do you notice any other emotions?
  • Do you feel angry or anxious?
  • Are you looking at specific things and making unhelpful comparisons?

Making social media work for you doesn’t mean coming off these platforms entirely. However, you could ask these questions to see if you can reduce the amount of time you spend on social media:

  • How much time do you spend on social media?
  • How often do you check social media?
  • How much do you want to reduce this by?
  • What enjoyable thing could you do instead?

Do the accounts you follow help you feel better about your appearance?

Making social media work for you can mean taking steps to boost the amount of positive and motivating content you see. There are some inspiring people on social media who post lots of helpful tips about how to be confident and feel better about your body. Some of these people have a visible difference.

You may find that other accounts make you feel worse about yourself by focusing on mainstream views of body image.

You might consider going through the accounts that you follow and unfollowing the ones that make you feel bad about yourself. If you follow people who make you feel better about yourself, you could prioritise them so you see their posts first.

Are your social media friends supportive of your visible difference?

One way of making social media work for you is to ensure your friends are people who are supportive of you, don’t antagonise or upset you and do not “troll” you (more on trolling below).

Facebook: Think about who is on your “friends” list. Are these people helpful friends to have? Are they supportive of you? Do they share the same broad outlook, or do you find yourself made upset or angry by their posts or interactions? Some people do a regular review of their friends and delete those they are not really “friends” with.

Twitter: You might want a private account so people can only see your posts if they are a follower. This way, you also have control over who follows you.

Instagram: You could set up a private account in order to control who has access to your photos.

Dealing with trolls

Unfortunately, some people on social media make nasty or hurtful comments to people. Some people set up accounts just for this reason! These people are known as “trolls”.

You can report any abuse on social media (there is normally a report button). Blocking the trolls from your account is a good way of making social media work for you as they will no longer be able to see your posts or interact with you.

Try to avoid responding to trolls as this can lead to more horrible comments and more upset for you. Trolls are often just looking for attention – ignoring them means they don’t get this.

Abuse and hate crime

Over 40% of people with a visible difference have had negative experiences online and one in 10 say they are repeatedly harassed on social media.

You can report abuse direct to the social media platforms to help stop this behaviour and limit the perpetrator’s ability to do so again or to someone else.

Don’t be a bystander

If you see someone being abused online, don’t look the other way. If a friend or loved one seeks your help with an abusive online situation, listen to what they have to say and take their situation seriously. While it can be tempting to retaliate against the abuser with hurtful words, this is usually what they want you to do. Instead, reach out to your friend or loved one with positive words to remove the attention from the abuser.

Reporting trolling, abuse and harassment

When an account is harassing or threatening, report it. It will take a few steps, but your report will help make the online world a better place:

  • Report what’s happened on the site or app. You can normally tap the menu icon next to the post and find the report option there.
  • Take screenshots of abusive messages in case they are needed for your report, or in future.
  • Block the people being abusive. This can usually be found on the post menu.
  • If you need emotional support, contact Changing Faces’ Support and Information Line.

How to report content on different platforms

Click or tap on the platform name to see details of how to report content on that platform:

Twitter

What you tweet on Twitter is public unless you’ve set your account to private. This means that anyone can read, retweet and respond to anything you tweet.

Changing your privacy settings is a good way to stop people tweeting or replying to you. It can also help if people are direct messaging you. Find out more about changing your privacy settings.

What to do if you’re getting abusive messages:

  1. Unfollow anyone who is harassing you by going to their profile and pressing the “following” button.
  2. Block anyone who is harassing you by going to their profile, pressing the three dots (on Android) or the gear (on iOS) in the top right hand corner and selecting block.

Blocking someone stops them from contacting or following you. You can always unblock them if you want to in the future.

If someone creates new accounts to keep harassing you, then you can make a report to Twitter.

Facebook

The way to report abuse depends on what you’re reporting. You can find out how to report abuse on the Facebook help page  or by reading Facebook’s information on reporting and blocking.

Report abusive behaviour

On the Facebook app:

  1. Select the three dots in the top right-hand corner of the post or photo.
  2. Select the ‘Find support or report’ link.
  3. You’ll be asked some questions about why you’re making a report.

Facebook won’t tell the person you’re reporting that it was you.

To report something on Facebook Messenger, in the app:

  1. Go to the conversation you want to report.
  2. Click on the conversation title at the top of the screen.
  3. Click ‘Something’s wrong’.
  4. Select what’s happening.
  5. After you’ve left feedback, you can also opt to report or block the person.

Reports are anonymous. Facebook will tell you in your support inbox if they’ve been able to help.

Have a look at Facebook’s page on privacy to change your privacy settings and control who sees your profile and posts.

You can also hide someone on Facebook. This means that you won’t see their posts in your newsfeed, but you’ll still be friends with them.

Instagram

Instagram is automatically set to public so that anyone can see your images – even if you don’t know them. Setting your profile to private can help to stop harassment. Find out more about changing your privacy settings.

Report something you find threatening or abusive

In the app:

  1. Press the three dots in the top right-hand corner above the picture or video.
  2. Select report.
  3. Select the reasons you want to report the image.

If someone is being abusive to you via direct message, you can also report that. In the app:

  1. Open the direct message from the person you want to report.
  2. Press the i symbol in the top right-hand corner.
  3. Select report and enter the reasons you want to report them.
  4. You can also block the person by pressing Block user.

Instagram won’t tell someone if they’ve been blocked. Once they are blocked, they won’t be able to find your profile, posts or story on Instagram. But they can still mention you using the ‘@’ sign. Changing your username can be a good way to make sure that they can’t mention it.

Find out more about reporting to Instagram.

YouTube

Report a video

YouTube staff review reported videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A video can be reported at any time once uploaded to YouTube and then it is reviewed by YouTube staff. If no violations are found by the review team, no amount of reporting will change that and the video will remain on the site.

  1. Go to the video you’d like to report.
  2. Tap More – the three vertical dots at the top of the video.
  3. Tap the report flag.
  4. Select the reason for reporting.

The Report spam or abuse link allows you to report spam comments left on videos you upload or watch. If enough users mark a comment as spam, it becomes hidden under a Marked as spam link. By clicking the Show link you can see the comment again.

The video’s uploader has the ability to unmark a comment as spam.

  1. Go to the comment you’d like to report.
  2. Tap More – the three vertical dots, below the comment.
  3. Tap Report.
  4. Select the reason for reporting.

Use the Report spam or abuse feature with caution. If you misuse it, you may be prohibited from using YouTube. If you believe a comment you made was marked as spam but you don’t believe it to be, you can contact the video’s uploader  and ask them to reinstate your comment.

Report a live chat message

You can report inappropriate messages left on live streams:

  • Go to the message you’d like to report.
  • Tap More – the three vertical dots, below the comment.
  • Tap Report.
  • Select the reason for reporting.

Flagging is a great way to report a video that you think violates the YouTube Community Guidelines, but sometimes you may need to report more than one piece of content or may wish to submit a more detailed report for review.

Using the reporting tool, you can highlight a user’s comments, videos and provide additional information about your concern. If you feel that you have been targeted for abuse, this tool is your best option to report content. Report abuse via the in-product reporting tool.

WhatsApp

If someone is harassing you then you can report and block them. They could be banned from using the app.

To report someone:

  1. Go to the chat with the person you want to report.
  2. Tap on the group or person’s name to open their profile.
  3. Scroll down and press Report.

You can also block the person on this page. Blocking someone on messenger apps means they won’t be able to send you abusive messages. Usually the other person won’t know that you’ve blocked them. You’ll just appear offline when they look at their contacts.

There’s more guidance on WhatsApp’s website.

Snapchat

Snaps automatically disappear once the person you sent them to has seen them. But they can still take screenshots and save them. That means that they’ll have a copy of the photo even after Snapchat deletes it.

Find out more information at the Snapchat website.

Make a report

If you receive an abusive or worrying message. It can help to take a screenshot so you’ve got a record. The person who messaged you will see if you’ve taken a screenshot, so it’s important to think about how they might react if they know.

If someone’s bullying or harassing you, you can report that person to Snapchat.

To make a report:

  1. In the app, go to the person’s Snapchat account.
  2. Press the three dots or the cog wheel.
  3. Press Report.

To report a Snapchat or Snapchat Live Story that contains bullying content:

  1. Press and hold the snap or story.
  2. Press the flag in the bottom left-hand corner.
  3. Select the reason you’re making a report.
  4. If you’re reporting bullying you might be asked to give more information. It’s important to explain as much as possible.
  5. After you’ve made the report you’ll be asked whether you would like to block the person, doing this can help to stop them upsetting you.

Block someone

Blocking someone on Snapchat will stop them from seeing your story or sending you snaps and chats. It can help if someone’s sending you abusive messages.

To block someone:

  1. In Snapchat, open the chat for the person you want to block.
  2. Press the three lines in the top left-hand corner.
  3. Press Block.

TikTok

TikTok is automatically set to public, which means that anyone can see what you live stream or the videos you post. Changing your account settings can help if you are experiencing abuse.

TikTok’s own Community Guidelines say that users should feel safe to express themselves without fear of being shamed, humiliated, bullied, or harassed, and that they do not tolerate abusive content or behaviour on the platform.

Make a report

To report a video or live stream:

  1. On the video, tap the share icon.
  2. Tap Report.
  3. Select It’s inappropriate.
  4. Choose the reason you’re making a report.
  5. Press Report.

To report a comment:

  1. Tap and hold the comment you want to report.
  2. Tap Report.
  3. Select It’s inappropriate.
  4. Select the reason you’re making a report.
  5. Press Report.

To report a chat:

  1. Open the conversation you want to report.
  2. Tap the three dots in the corner of the screen.
  3. Select It’s inappropriate.
  4. Tap Report.
  5. Select the reason you’re making a report.
  6. Press Report.

To report an account:

  1. Go to the account you want to report.
  2. Tap the three dots in the corner of the screen.
  3. Tap Report.
  4. Select It’s inappropriate.
  5. Select the reason you’re making a report.
  6. Press Report.

Find out more about making a report to TikTok.

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