Resources: Digital Harassment Self-Defense Workshop #3

Exercising Control Over Your Online Presence

Social Media

Bulk delete old tweets with the tool Semiphemeral. You can also plan to delete them on an automatic schedule . See Instructions here. Many customization options. You can also save a spreadsheet of your old tweets for personal archiving, if you want.

Delete or hide old Facebook posts in bulk (Instructions from PCMag, 2021)

On Twitter, consider proactive blocking. For example, here’s a list of users to proactively block.

If you have social media accounts that you use primarily for communicating with friends and family (rather than professionally), consider making them private.

What kinds of information and images do you fell comfortable sharing going forward?

University Websites and Personal Websites

Do you want a photo on your department website? Do you want your campus address posted on university or personal websites?

If you maintain a personal website, use a contact form rather than publishing your personal email address.

If you have a personal website, be sure to keep security patches updated.

Your Academic Work

Be aware that when you are emailing with colleagues at state universities, those conversations made be made public via FOIA requests.

Consider adding a copyright statement to your syllabus that prohibits students’ posting course materials publicly. This Faculty Senate page offers suggested language. If you find your work posted on third party sites, you can request removal. Cornell Library Copyright Services offers a guide for finding re-posted course material and requesting its removal. 

Early Warning System

Set up a Google alert for your name, so that you will have a little heads-up if you become a target.

Request colleagues and family not share your contact information or personal details with cold callers or e-mailers. Consider speaking with your departmental administrative staff, and with anyone connected with your name in data broker collections or academic work.

Plan in Advance How You’ll Respond in the Event of an Attack

Is there a friend you would trust to screen your email for you, so that you don’t have to read the messages in the moment? Talk to them in advance.

Who in your personal or professional networks could you tap to report social media abuse? Threatening posts have a better chance of being taken down if reported by someone other than the target.

Do you want to save abusive materials in order to have documentation later?

Consider starting a conversation with colleagues in your unit or department about the collective harm of targeted and network harassment. As a group, consider how you might respond collectively, or not, to cases of sustained and severe harassment.

Consider contacting Cornell Health’s Victim Advocacy Program for mental health and other support.

Further Reading to Inform Your Threat Model

Data Snapshot: Whom Does Campus Reform Target and What Are the Effects? (H. Tiede,, American Association of University Professors Reports & Publications. Spring 2021.)

A Billionaire-Funded Website with Ties to the Far-Right Is Trying to “Cancel” University Professors (A. Speri, The Intercept. April 2021)

Sensationalized Surveillance: Campus Reform and the Targeted Harassment of Faculty (S. McCarthy & I. Kamola, New Political Science. Nov. 2021)

Faculty First Responders, a project of political scientist Isaac Kamola
Provides useful summaries and talking points about the sources and structures of targeted harassment, particularly by Campus Reform, and advice for both faculty and administrators.

In the Line of Fire (C. O’Grady, Science, March 2022.)
On networked harassment of scientists, particularly those working on COVID-19 research

Academic Freedom, Collective Harms, and Collective Responses

It’s important to remember that, while the burden of targeted or networked harassment is borne by individuals, the goal of such harassment is to discredit and delegitimize higher education, the academy, the research process, academic freedom, and academic institutions collectively. Therefore, the problem can never be solved by individual responses alone. Here are some resources to consider if you are planning collective defenses with your department, professional organization, or other group. 

How Should Administrators Respond to a Campus Reform Story? (I. Kamola, Faculty First Responders Project)

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP), informed by years of research and practice, recommends clear and forceful condemnations of harassment and intimidation from institutions, boards, and faculties, individually and collectively.

Model Public Message in Support of Targeted Faculty Member (Syracuse University, Sept. 2021)

Against the Common Sense: Academic Freedom as a Collective Right (E. Cherinavsky. Journal of Academic Freedom. 2021.)