Cyber stalking and cyber bullying are topics I wanted to discuss because it can happen to you. A cyber stalker can be anyone. You can become a victim at any time. I have been cyber stalked and I wanted to share my experiences about it.
What is cyber stalking and cyber bullying?
Cyberstalking is a crime in which the attacker harasses a victim using electronic communication, such as e-mail or instant messaging (IM), or messages posted to a website, social media pages, or a discussion group. A cyberstalker relies upon the anonymity afforded by the Internet to allow them to stalk their victim without being detected.
Often times online harassment for children are referrred to as cyber bullying and for adults as cyber stalking. Although the terms for both can be used interchangebly. It is also referred to as cyber harassment. You probably have encountered one or more internet trolls who have nothing else better to do than to put other people down so they can suck the happiness out of others. Cyber stalkers feed on terror, they want to create fear and shut you down.
It can happen to you
There are plenty of people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media websites who pretend to be your friend, like your statuses, like your photos, pretend to get to know you, be in your good graces, and then turn on you in a heartbeat when you have an opinion that differs than theirs. Cyber stalkers may start off pretending to be friendly or they may be hostile from the get go. Just because someone requests you as a friend on Facebook or follows you on Twitter, it doesn't mean they really want to be your friend. They could be snooping through your photos, reading your posts, see who you are connected to, gathering data to steal your identity or worse, to harm you mentally or physically.
Why do they stalk you?
Anything can trigger a person to hate you. It can be a photo, a status update, an announcement, a 'like', anything that the other person doesn't like or agree with. It could be an ex boyfriend/ex girlfriend, someone from your past, a former friend, a creep down the street, someone who just doesn't like you, anyone. Sometimes you aren't even aware that you did anything. Your opinions may differ from theirs. They might be jealous of you. Whatever it is, a cyber stalker preys on you. Unfortunately there are people in this world who are miserable and unhappy. They want to share that misery with anyone they can clench in their claws into and bring you down to their level. They feel powerful to say things to you online that they could never say in real life because in real life they are cowards.
What you can do if you are being cyber stalked or cyber harassed
If you know their identity, keep a record of all incidents (time, date, copies of the harassment, username). If you are under the age of 18, tell your parent or an adult you trust about any harassments/threats. If you do not feel safe to respond to your attacker, block them. You have the option to communicate that the harassment is unwanted and for the attacker to cease/stop any further communication. Keep all electronic and hard copies of any harassment. If the attacker continues to communicate with you, do not respond back. Most social media channels allow you to "Report" a user. Most also have a "Block" feature. While it won't stop the cyber stalker from creating further fake anonymous accounts, you can take further measures to protect yourself.
- Review your privacy settings
- Review your current friendslist and remove any people you do not know
- Do not accept random strangers
- Do not share your location in your statuses such as checking into places or that you are out of town etc ...
- Do not be friends with people who are friends of the cyber stalker
- If you are being harassed through a blog or website that you manage and you have access to your traffic logs, you can obtain IP addresses of everyone who accesses your website/blog. You can report the identified IP address of your cyber stalker to your internet service provider and their internet service provider. You can also ban their IP from accessing your website/blog. You can also block/ban the cyber stalker from making comments on your blog.
- You can report your cyber stalkers to your local police.
- If you are being harassed by email, you can block their email with your email provider.
- If you are being harassed by text message or by phone, block the number by going into your mobile settings. One option, get a new number and only share with people you trust.
- Report any incidents of identity theft
- If it becomes unmanagable on your social networks, it's okay to take a break.
My personal experiences with cyber harassment
In the past I've been harassed on various social networks such as Youtube, Facebook, and most recently I have been cyber stalked on Instagram. I'm not sure what people have to gain by harassing me through my blog, harassing me through email, creating fake accounts to stalk me, stealing my photos, impersonating me on social networks, stealing my Youtube videos, or stalking my friends/family/coworkers. Unfortunately there are some people in this world who just don't want to see you happy.
I really enjoy sharing content with my friends, family, and anyone who shares similar interests with me but in some cases, I have had to take a step back and focus on my safety and the safety of my friends. I understand there is a difference between being criticized versus being stalked/harassed. If you feel unsafe, that's harassment.
I hope some of these tips help you. Stay safe my friends.