If you have ever wanted to find out information about someone, the first thing you think to do is search for them on Facebook. Within an instant you can find out everything you need to know about a person, which is pretty frightening really, especially if someone is doing it to you. In some cases, things can get a little out of hand, but how do we really know if someone is just having a snoop or we have a full on stalker. It qualifies as creepy, because the other person likely has no clue they’re being watched online.
For many people, online searching is harmless and mostly down to curiosity. But for others, internet creeping can become something more sinister, such as stalking….
With the rise in technology and the internet, it’s a lot easier for dangerous stalkers to access information on you . About 7.5 million people are stalked each year in the United States, the Stalking Resource Center reported.
So how can you tell if you are being stalked online? Here are some clues:
- The person looks at your social media accounts obsessively.
Domestic stalking is the most common form of stalking, according to Ronald M. Holmes, a professor of sex crimes, serial murder, and criminal profiling at the University of Louisville.
Perry told our source that obsessive checking up is typical among people who don’t want to move on from a breakup.
“We all check up on ex-partners or people we meet,” Perry said. “Just to see what they are doing: Have they moved on? Are they dating? However, if you are checking on someone multiple times a week, then that is obsessive. The most common time people become obsessive is when they break up.”
He recommended deleting social media posts that could potentially provoke an actual cyberstalker and trying more private forms of social media:
“Review and remove material online that you think will feed their obsession. Think twice what you put on, it can be a trigger. There have been people murdered because they changed their online relationship status or put up a photo of a new boyfriend. Switch to more private social media platforms such as Whatsapp.”
- The person is always trying to find new ways to get you to engage back, even if you repeatedly ignore their efforts.
“Stalking is a substitute for a relationship,” Perry told our source. “You are trying to communicate with them, keep up with how they are feeling, what they are doing even though they don’t want you to. Victims describe it as mental rape, because you [are] forcing a person to engage with you against their will. The victim is having to respond to their stalker.”
In some cases, stalkers may spread rumors about their victims to escalate the situation and get a response, she said:
“[The victim] may have to take action to secure an account, address malicious rumors, [and] avoid certain places.”
- The person bothers your loved ones.
“Stalkers are fixated, obsessive,” Perry said. “They will look at your social media several times a day. They also review material they have, looking at photos over and over again. They will also look at [a] friend’s social media to try to get more insight and information. They contact friends and family. They will pretend they are worried about you or the opposite and send [your loved ones] pictures or information to humiliate [you].”
Perry advised stalking victims to keep their loved ones in the loop about being stalked:
“Tell your friends and family you have a stalker, [and] make sure they aren’t disclosing information about what you’re doing, where you are going to be, etc.”
- The person gets access to your personal information online.
“Stalkers spend hours thinking about their victim, trying to hack your online accounts, fantasizing. They will try to access every part of your life,” Perry said. “It’s disrupting [and takes] a lot of energy and resources to counter the stalker. It’s exhausting, frightening, and it often leaves victims [suffering] significant psychological trauma.”
To try and put a stop to this, Perry recommended making a new email account, updating your passwords, and setting up a “two step authentication on all your key online accounts, starting with your email and smartphone.” She recommended doing this with social media, e-commerce, and bank accounts.
- The person seems to always know where you are.
“We’ll get victims who say, ‘The guy knows exactly where I am all the time. I don’t understand. I’ll be at Broadway and Seventh, and he’ll be able to tell me that I’ve been there at this time,that’s when we tell law enforcement to go out and search your car. You can buy GPS trackers off the internet, and they’re like little tabs. They stick them on the vehicle, then they go on the internet, pay $40 or so, and they are tracking the car. The internet doesn’t know you’re a stalker; the internet just knows you paid $40 to track a car. There are a lot of people who track their cars for business, so they sell the programs and the GPS generators. The internet is a tremendous thing, but then it’s also a bad thing.”