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Intimidation and threats

Unfortunately, scientists are increasingly confronted with (online) hatred, intimidation and even threats. This often happens anonymously, while scientists work openly and in public. Being sworn at on social media after a public performance has come to seem almost normal. But it is important that you always report any incidents to the UvA. If there is a threat, physical or sexual violence, stalking or burglary, the basic principle is that a report is always made to the police. The UvA supports its employees and can provide assistance if necessary and/or desired.

What can you do?

Dealing with unwanted emails, phone calls or intimidating comments on social media, can take a heavy toll. You can find help and support from, for example, your manager, your colleagues or the UvA Press Office.

  • In the event of (online) threats or intimidation
    • Consider whether you want to file a report. The expert team consisting of employees from the Security and Legal Affairs Team can support you in this process. Depending on the type of situation, they can provide legal advice, help file a report with the police or offer advice about dealing with online harassment.
    • Consider whether it is wise to respond on social media. Discuss this with UvA Press Office and/or your colleagues.
    • Take screenshots threatening or harassing social media posts, and save threatening or intimidating emails.
    • Don't read Twitter for a few days or ask someone else to monitor it for you.
    • Shield your personal information.
    • Consult the VSNU’s Addressing threats to and harassment of scientists (currently only available in Dutch, with an English version to follow soon).
  • How can the UvA help me?

    The UvA's expert team can help and support you in situations where you feel intimidated or threatened. Our support could involve, for example, legal advice, making a police report or social media monitoring. Or if you are going to publish on a sensitive subject in the near future, the Press Office can contribute ideas and advice.

  • What happens if I make a report?

    If a report is made, support is provided by the expert team, which consists of the Safety and Security, Communications and Legal Affairs departments. Employees from these departments can support and advise you on issues from preparing a public appearance to reporting a threat or intimidation to the police.

  • How is this different from reporting an incident via the support portal SafeScience?

    If you you report an incident via the SafeScience portal as an UvA employee, SafeScience will forward this report to the UvA. This is also the case with telephone reports. It is faster to contact the UvA expert team directly.

  • Where can I go for additional questions?
  • How do I protect myself on social media?
    • Secure your (social media) accounts with two-step verification.
    • Shield your personal information.
    • Make a distinction between the accounts you use. Particularly if you are dealing with a controversial subject, it is advisable to keep work and private life well separated on social media and to use different accounts for work issues than for private ones.
    • Even if you are only active on social media in a personal capacity, people will make the link to the UvA and your position as a scientist. Make it clear that the statements are made in a personal capacity.
    • ‘Don't feed the trolls' and 'Don't feed the algorithm'. Ignore or block people who are annoying. People with extreme opinions are never really convinced, so save yourself the time and energy. One reason to respond may be to offer information to anyone else who may be reading the posts, but then keep it to just one statement.
    • Do not post information on (public) social media channels from which your home address could be derived.
    • If necessary, remove your telephone number from your UvA profile page.
    • Read the brochure ‘Researchers in the media' for more practical tips.