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How to Avoid Stalking

By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) - Updated: 26 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Cyber Stalking Cyber Stalker Stalk

Stalking and ‘having a stalker’ is probably considered to be a bit of a joke – unless it’s happened to you.

Cyber stalking is a modern phenomenon, one which is growing and being made easier by the widespread use of mobile phones and email. Frighteningly, stalking or online harassment tops the list of computer crimes - there were 1.94million cases of online harassment reported in the UK in 2007. These included abusive e-mails, and even hurtful and defamatory allegations posted on websites.

What is Cyber Stalking?

Cyber stalking may not sound as serious as ‘traditional’ stalking but it can have an insidious effect on your life if you fall victim to it. It’s where somebody uses electronic media like emails, instant messaging, or social networking sites to harass you or bully you.

You will know when you’re being cyber stalked - you might start getting bombarded by unwanted emails, or find that someone pops up on every forum you’re a member of, posts things on your wall on social networking sites and generally becomes a nuisance. If the contact you’re getting from someone is making you feel uncomfortable or in any way uneasy – it could be stalking.

What Sort of Things Can They Do?

Some really nasty stalkers might try and post malicious things about you online, often in Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. But being online is part of everyday life, and so although you have to be aware of the possibility of your details being used to harass you, don’t be afraid of using networking sites or going online.

What Should I Look Out For?

Always assume that anything you post online on a website can be read by absolutely anybody, and you won’t go far wrong. No matter what the networking sites say, they are not secure and no matter how high your privacy settings, there are still loopholes.The only time you should post contact details such as a personal email address online is when you are running a business and actually want people to contact you through the Internet.

Always think about the kind of thing that you are saying about yourself, and about others, on any open forum or chat site. Don’t give too much away about yourself, your actions or your whereabouts as you never know who could be reading the site.

If you post that you are going to be in a particular place for all and sundry to read, it’s an open invitation for cyber stalkers to actually find you. And it goes without saying that you should never post anything that identifies you, your address or the fact that you are going to be alone, or away for the weekend, or on holiday.

Limiting the personal information that you give out to complete strangers is key to avoiding problems with cyber stalkers, as they need something to latch on to in order to be able to follow you around. The less they think they know about you, the more difficult it will be for them to harass you online. Would you give out the information you’re thinking of posting to a complete stranger?

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