By: Jen Gideon, she/her
In today’s world of modern technology, we are as connected as we have ever been. We can call and text anyone, in nearly any part of the world. Social media allows us to connect with old friends, and share updates about our life. All this connection is a great thing, right? It can be easy to forget that once information is on the internet, it can be found. Below is some information about cyber stalking, and tips you can use to protect your information.
What is cyber stalking?
Cyberstalking is also known as online stalking. It occurs when a person uses the internet to harass, intimidate or frighten a person (Symanovich, 2020). Cyberstalking can translate out of the digital world into real life. Posting on social media can potentially reveal your location, and it may give a stalker an opportunity to find where you are. Information on social media accounts can provide information about a person that might assist them in extorting or harassing a survivor (FBI, 2018).
Tips to protect yourself:
1~Only accept friend requests from people you know and have met personally.
2~Check your security and privacy settings on your social media profiles, and make sure that your information is private.
3~When creating social media or online dating profiles, avoid giving out your last name, telephone number and email address.
4~Feel free to block any profiles that seem strange or suspicious.
5~When making a social media post, wait to post pictures of your location until after you leave the place. You can schedule posts, and set it for a time when you are at home. This prevents people from having your location in real time.
6~Change your passwords every 30-45 days (Katehakis, 2016).
7~ Avoid using real pictures of you, instead, use your favorite cartoon character, animal or flower for your profile picture.
Dealing with cyberstalking can be scary and very stressful. Remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help. It may be time to contact local authorities if: Your safety is being threatened, an online abuser posted nonconsensual explicit photos of you, or you want to get a restraining order* (Pen America, n.d.). If possible, document any/all contact with a cyberstalker. This includes screenshots, dates and times of contact (Pen America, n.d.). Having this information can assist law enforcement with catching the person.
If you are being harassed online, say something! It is better to let a trusted individual know what you are going through than to deal with it alone. There is help available to keep you safe and happy.
*This information is for education only. It is not legal advice, intended to replace the assistance of a lawyer or law enforcement.
Katehakis, A. (2016, April 19). 10 Tips to protact yourself from cyberstalking. From Pyschology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sex-lies-trauma/201604/10-tips-protect-yourself-cyberstalking
Knowles, J., & Pistone, A. (2020, March 6). Cyberstalking: how to prevent cyberstalking, report cyberstalkers to FBI. From ABC 7: Eye Witness News: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-how-to-how-to-protect-yourself-from-cyberstalkers.html
Langley, N. (n.d.). From https://i.pinimg.com/originals/f5/8e/95/f58e954e5c6e0489a588a56acf37e97d.png
Pen America. (n.d.). Online harassment field manual. From Pen America: https://onlineharassmentfieldmanual.pen.org/reporting-to-law-enforcement/
People Matters. (2020). Cybersecurity in the post-COVID landscape. From People Matters: https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/article/technology/cybersecurity-in-the-post-covid-landscape-25937
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner. (2020). Cyberstalking increases across Sussex in COVID-19 crisis. From SPCC: https://www.sussex-pcc.gov.uk/about/news/cyberstalking-increases-across-sussex-in-covid-19-crisis/
Symanovich, S. (2019, April 2). Cybertalking: help protect yourself against cyberstalking. From Norton Security: https://us.norton.com/internetsecurity-how-to-how-to-protect-yourself-from-cyberstalkers.html