💬 Messaging-based services

Safeguarding when using messaging tools to communicate with users who are known to the service.

Take action

  1. Use encrypted messaging apps to ensure that messages are not being intercepted or accessed by anyone other than the intended recipient

  2. Check and agree user preferences about what time they are comfortable receiving messages

  3. Take action to reduce the risks listed below

Key risks

1. Messages read by others leads to further harm: a perpetrator finds out a victim is reaching out for support, and inflicts further harm

  • Q. What is the best software for reducing the chance of messages being viewed by others?

  • Q. Have user and staff member both agreed to use this tool to communicate? Have they agreed what times of day to make contact? This is particularly relevant when service users are living at risk of harm.

2. Third party impersonates user: lack of visual or vocal cues in messaging allows third party to reply to service messages, leading to misinformation.

  • Q. How might staff check they are communicating with the user and not a third party?

3. Worker or user misunderstands message: leading to distress, confusion or harm.

  • Q. What is the best mode of communication for the content of each conversation at hand? For example, is an emotional check-in appropriate via a messaging app as opposed to a phone call?

Take more action

  • Agree a safe word that at-risk users can use to alert staff to a problem without raising suspicion.

  • Articulate your policy about giving staff mobile numbers to users. Support those staff who do to manage boundaries appropriately. Be clear about times when users can expect a service.

  • Use encrypted messenger apps to minimise risk. Avoid using personal social media profiles.

See it in action

Dive deeper