With social media apps and mobile messaging all the rage these days, it’s no surprise that people are spending more of their time online. With more time spent online, however, comes an increased risk of Internet stalking. The latest tools and technology that help people stay connected is also helping online stalkers harass their victims.
Defining Internet Stalking
Whether it’s online harassment, Internet stalking or cyberharassment, the overall goal remains the same – to maliciously target and harass specific individuals through various forms of direct and indirect contact online. This contact can happen through a variety of mediums, from emails, instant messaging and forums to blogs, websites and social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter.
Internet stalking often takes multiple forms, including:
- Sending harmful material, including direct threats, malware and sexually explicit content
- Harassing friends, family members and coworkers
- Impersonating victims in order to sabotage their relationships
- Creating websites specifically to slander and harass victims
- Hacking into victims’ online accounts (usually through password guessing)
- Creating false social media profiles in order to harm the victim
Internet stalking isn’t just limited to complete strangers. The culprit could also be someone you know, whether it’s a coworker, a causal acquaintance or even a friend or family member. In many cases, the culprit often remains unknown.
How It Impacts Victims
When it comes to online harassment, young adults age 18 to 29 are more likely to become the targets of Internet stalking than any other demographic, according to recent data from the Pew Research Center. Young women in particular face extreme forms of harassment, with 18 percent of women age 18 to 24 facing sustained harassment.
Internet stalking can be a devastating experience for victims. An unrelenting of harassment by a dedicated stalker can cause victims to suffer an untold amount of stress and anxiety, as well as lose their self-confidence and peace of mind. Ongoing Internet stalking can also destroy relationships and leave victims feeling isolated. There have even been recorded instances of Internet stalking leading to suicide.
Tips to Remember
The anonymous nature of the Internet makes online stalking difficult to pinpoint. To stay safe, here are a few tips you should always keep in mind:
- Make sure the passwords you’re using are not only hacker-resistant, but also unique to each and every social networking site.
- Be wary of the information you post on your social media accounts. This includes identifying info such as your address, birth date and even names of friends and family members.
- Don’t post information about where you are currently and where you’re headed. Stalkers can use this information against you.
- Document all instances of harassment and gather as much evidence as possible. Collecting physical evidence of Internet stalking can help officials identify and track down those responsible.
- Got a friend request from a stranger? Don’t accept it. Chances are it could be a stalker looking for a way into your account.
Security is paramount, especially in today’s interconnected world. You can always turn to Protect America whenever you need monitored home security services. Get in touch with us for your free quote today.