HOW TO: Prevent and Report Online Stalking?

One would agree with me that the Social Web is a growing and becoming a permanent part of our world. People use these social media to do business and communicate with each other in the same way as in the real world, they have mailboxes and addresses. Staying completely anonymous in these days is almost impossible due to the social media.

Huge amount of personal information is gathered and collected by the web that we have deliberately shared online for example, our interests, friends, purchases, location, current activities, etc. Now if anyone is tracking all of this information will not only knows what we say, like or purchase, but our location and to whom we are doing business with. This adds up to a large record of information on almost every Internet user.

Online Stalking also knows as ‘Cyber Stalking’ is an issue that will stick in this world of web. Online stalkers usually use someone else’s identity or worse they hide behind Internet anonymity. In order to understand online stalking and how to prevent you from it follow this simple guideline below.

1. Gather Facts

Always remember that every post that you put on a social network could be public malicious data-stealing Trojans and sophisticated search engines can find and share any information about you, even on the most secure and trusted social networks. Personal data could be used by criminals to stalk you, hurt you personally, or steal your identity.

The best thing to do is to stay informed about the latest threats and which popular sites may have been recently hacked. Some important resources with quality information include:

*The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA)

*The Federal Trade Commission (FTC): Computers and Internet Privacy

2. Be Cautious and Watchful

If you want to protect your personal information whether on your Gmail account or on your Facebook profile, there is a security software available that can help you do it. For example, you can install software that will warn you if any sensitive words or numbers (like addresses, phone numbers, passwords, dates of birth, etc.) are entered onto a web page. You should also be sure your confidential and financial data is only entered into websites that have proof of their security from companies like VeriSign or TRUSTe.

Because so much of our day-to-day communication is done on social networks (sharing on Facebook, job hunting on Craigslist, it may not always be clear when we encounter the issue of online stalking.

For the reason that on daily basis there is so much  communication is done on social networks (like job hunting on Craigslist or sharing on Facebook), it may not always be clear when we encounter the issue of online stalking. You may think you’re overreacting, but if you’re feeling intimidated or insecure about a situation and you’re not sure what to do, here are some sources that may help you determine if you’re being stalked.

1. QuitStalkingMe.com

2. WiredSafety.org

3. State Cyberstalking Laws

4. ConnectSafely.org

3. Don’t React, Just Report

Anyone who feels that he or she is being harassed or stalked online should not troublemaker. Instead they should either report to sites such as ‘Cyber911 Emergency’ from Wired Safety, and ‘Cyberstalking’ from The National Center for Victims of Crime or to the online community where it’s happening (by flagging on social networks, reporting abusive links, etc.).

Always try to keep a record of the communications, and contact authorities if it becomes threatening in any way. Users under the age of 18 should also alert their parents or an adult they trust to help them properly track the communications and contact authorities as appropriate.

Like harassment and bullying, stalking cannot be stopped by any technology. On the other hand there are several ways to keep track of communications through Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc. The silver lining is that online stalking is probably easier to put on trial than physical stalking because the communications are usually distinguishable in some way.

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