It is important to note that those experiencing cyberharassment or cyberstalking are victims of a crime and it is not the result of their actions, beliefs, or physicality. Victims do not cause cyberharassment or cyberstalking rather; a perpetrator commits cyberharassment and cyberstalking. Victims and their families have options for legal recourse.
If available, use a two-factor or double authentication security option. Two-factor authentication options ask the user to supply a second form of authentication when accessing a social media or other online account. This requires a user to enter a username and password, then supply another piece of predetermined information to access the account. The second authentication options may require the user to answer a question about the user or the account or provide a special code sent to a device (phone) or email associated with the account.
- Carefully consider the personal information supplied on public accounts. Hometown, current city, birth date, email address, phone number, names of family members, schools attended, places of employment, and personal pictures are bits of information someone can use to obtain other publically available information about a person. That information can include the existence of arrest or prison records, businesses owned, residences, vehicles owned, past employers, current salary, and places frequently visited. Sharing hobbies or interests such as movies, television shows, music, places, etc. can provide cyberstalkers with information they can use to obtain more information that is personal.
- Do not be “friends” with or accept “follower requests” from people not personally known. The user should note on the publically viewable profile that the user does not accept association requests from people he or she does not personally know. Also, note that requestors should include a message outlining who they are and how they know the user with the request. Do not reply to requests from individuals not personally known, especially via personal email or phone. If an association request is received from someone unknown to the user, they may contact them using the platform’s messaging application and ask the requestor to verify a personal connection.
- Tell friends not to post your personal information (even pictures) without your permission. Many people do not grasp the amount of personally identifiable information given out when they share about another’s life online. Tell friends, both online and offline, not to share personal information about another’s life, and then remind them occasionally.
- DO NOT publically share pictures or other identifying information about your children or other close family members. The saying a picture is worth a thousand words is true. A cute picture of a child’s first day at school or a spouse’s running meet is full of information about the places an individual’s family members frequent. This includes where the child goes to school, the parks and movie theaters visited, and locations where family members work and play. In addition, one can unwittingly share information about another person’s child when sharing one’s own pictures. Before posting any personal images, make certain that those in the picture give permission to post their image online.
- Leave all those online quizzes and polls alone. Yes, those “what kind of _______ am I?” quizzes are fun, but many of them are a means for companies or individuals to collect personal information.
- Do not publically RSVP to events. On some social media platforms events are sometimes public and others can see when someone accepts an invitation. Even the semi-public event pages allow the “friends” of those invited to view the list of those attending.
- Pay attention to the information disseminated by electronic devices. On some social media platforms if the privacy settings are not set correctly, the public can see any updates posted from electronic devices (phone, tablet, etc).
- Use strong and different passwords for each online account. It is difficult to remember many passwords, but it is important for general security online security, and especially for victims of a cyberstalker. Make passwords strong, unique. Be sure change them every few months.21
Failure to follow these suggested actions [does] not cause cyberstalking; people who stalk others cause cyberstalking. These tips are not the sole remedy to any incident of stalking; if you think or know someone is stalking you or if a person online has threatened you or given you cause for fear of harm, then contact your local authorities and file a report. Make it known what is happening to you and seek out support from law enforcement, friends, and family. You are not alone and there [are] law enforcement personnel, counselors, and organizations who will help victims of cyberstalking.
[Retrieved Feb. 5, 2017, from National White Collar Crime Center Web site:
Protecting Victims of Cyberstalking