Cyberstalking refers to the use of
technology to stalk someone. Cyberstalking is repetitive,
menacing pursuit, following, harassment or interference with the
peace and/or safety of a member of the community that occurs
online. Similar to stalking that occurs in person, cyberstalking
evokes fear in the victim.
Cyberstalking behaviors may include,
but are not limited to:
Social networking sites are great ways to
share the latest in your life with friends and family members.
However, social networking sites can also provide stalkers with
a wealth of information about you, your interests and your
whereabouts. Here are a few ways to keep yourself safe on
both social networking sites and in cyberspace:
Keep your primary email address
private. Use a separate email account for online
activity. For example, you may use your Gmail account
for friends and family and a Hotmail account for online
activities. Keeping separate email accounts lessens the
chances that someone will be able to hack into your account
and gain access to private information.
Change your passwords frequently.
Do not use your pet's name, birthday or birth year, nickname
or other commonly known information as a password. Be sure
to include upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols
in the password. Lastly, use different passwords for each
account. While this may be troublesome to remember at first,
it greatly decreases the chances that someone will be able
to break into your account.
Block or ignore unwanted users.
If you are engaged in an online chat and find a
situation escalating, use the ignore and/or block feature
that is available. Don't respond to users who "flame" you or
attempt to engage you in an argument. Confronting the person
typically results in a continued attack of your character.
Cut your losses and log off.
Google yourself. A quick way
to learn about your online reputation is to enter your name
in search engines such as Google, Bing and Dogpile.
Protect your pictures.
mindful of the pictures that you post on social networking
sites. When choosing to post a picture, remember that the
audience may not only include your friends, but family
members, professors and potential employers. Also, anyone
who can view your picture can copy it and distribute it
without your permission. Unless you utilize available
privacy settings, people can see your pictures on Fokti and
Flickr fairly easily.
Use privacy settings.
networking sites offer a multitude of ways to keep your
information private. The default setting on most social
networking sites is the least restrictive privacy setting.
For example, the default privacy setting for pictures is on
Facebook "everyone", meaning that anybody on Facebook who
can access your profile, including friends of friends, can
see your pictures.
Be mindful of the personal
information you post. Many social networking sites
invite you to create a profile that includes your interests,
hobbies, address and other information. When creating
a profile, be careful not to include information about your
location or other information that would lead a stalker to you.
Friend only people you know.
This tip may seem obvious but stalkers will often send a
friend request pretending to know you from a class or club
to gain access to your profile and learn more about you.
Use a genderless screen name
in chat rooms and message boards. Do not use your first or
last names as a screen name. Avoid screen names that divulge
your location (i.e. -"salisburyurocks!" or personal
information ("bgreer1991"). Safer screen names are those
that do not give away any personal information or even your
gender. Some stalkers are looking specifically for men or
specifically for women to harass.
Save all communication if you
are being harassed by someone online and contact Campus
Police (410.543.6222) or the
Counseling Center (410.543.6070).