Responding to Digital Ghost Stories – A Guide for Professionals

02 Sep 2021 UK SIC

Professionals Online Safety Helpline has seen reports around ‘digital ghost stories’ or viral online challenges that can appear as harmful. The helpline has seen how these challenges have gained sunstantial traction online.

When harmful challenges such as these appear at any given time, there is considerable pressure on professionals around how they should respond? There may questions such as do I share? Do I need to warn people about this harmful challenge? As incidents come, this pressure can feel different depending on the situation. Earlier in the year when a particular rumour that was notably disturbing started making the waves online, the imposing threat felt very real and took on more of a ‘real world’ impact compared to some of the others.

The Professionals Online Safety Helpline understands how easy it can be to get caught up in the panic. However, sometimes getting caught up in the commotion, and sharing with good intention to protect others can often backfire which can then lead to more people searching out the supposed content and looking more vigilantly for the content or story that they’re deliberately trying to protect people from. 

To help give the correct advice, the below video gives some guidance around how to respond to these stories

Included are steps on how to respond if a challenge does come about. It can also give you the confidence to know what to do if issues arise in the future. Sharing this video instead of specific warnings can benefit professionals in tackling harmful online challenges. It can also go towards helpling to protect the young people we work with.

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