Here’s another word to give ammunition to the anti-internet killjoys out there. With the growth of the internet, stalking has taken on a whole new dimension. The advent of social networking websites has provided it with fertile ground in which to flourish.
You must admit, it has become a lot easier to spy on someone, harass them or generally make their life a misery since we all put our profiles on Facebook and began chatting with our virtual friends online. Now there are millions of internet users exposing large parts of their lives to public view, stalkers no longer need to lurk in the bushes or hire a private detective. The anonymity of the internet gives the stalker a sense of impunity. That is why cyberstalking (or internet stalking) is now the fastest growing form of stalking. But how, in practical terms, can you tell if you’re being stalked online?
Cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying. If your inbox is clogged with hostile or threatening emails, or if insulting or threatening messages start to appear on your Facebook wall, you need to start asking questions.
But the average stalker won’t stop at bombarding you with nasty emails or messages online. He’ll be spying on you, gathering all the personal information you have put on the web. He won’t hesitate to contact your virtual “friends” using a false identity, to find out more about you. He might also pirate your accounts on Facebook, or Twitter, or use your name to set up false profiles and publish provocative messages to try and discredit you. The geekier stalkers could also send you viruses to bring your system down or – worse – infiltrate your computer and networks.
Stalkers are increasingly using the mobile phone as an additional weapon, by bombarding their victim with texts and calls.
The stalker usually tries to make out that he (or she) is the victim…and that the real victim is the villain. He typically makes false accusations against his victim to make his own hostility look like legitimate revenge.
Some of them try to find out your IP (your digital identity) in order to trace your home address or that of your workplace. Stalking can sometimes spill over into real life, with consequences only too easy to imagine – assaults, kidnapping, etc.