What Is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is the criminal practice of a person who uses the Internet to harass or threaten someone online. It can be carried out via email, social media, chat rooms, instant messages with customers and other online media. Cyberstalking of intimate partners is online harassment of a current or former romantic partner.

Cyberstalking is also a crime in which an attacker harasses his victim with electronic communications such as email, instant messaging, IM messages and posts on websites and discussion groups. Cyberstalkers rely on the anonymity of the Internet, which allows them to track their victims undetected.

Cyberstalking messages differ in that a cyberstalker targets a specific victim with a threatening message, whereas ordinary spam targets a large number of recipients with annoying messages. When it comes to cyberstalking, those engaged in this form of stalking use a variety of techniques and tactics to bully, humiliate, intimidate, control and behave in ways that go beyond intended. In fact, many of these cyberstalkers are extremely skilled and creative, and come up with plenty of ways to torment and harass their targets.

Cyberstalking is online harassment, and although it is a threat that can take many forms, it shares some important characteristics with offline stalking. Cyberstalking, like stalking, has the potential to cause a wide range of physical and emotional consequences to the target. Many stalkers, both online and offline, are motivated by a desire to exercise control over their victims, and may engage in similar behaviors to achieve this goal.

In some cases, cyber-stalking is perpetrated by a stranger who obtains the victim’s personal information over the internet. Cyberstalkers use internet search engines to find additional information they can use to harass their victims. Given the enormous amount of personal information available on the Internet, cyberstalking can locate a potential victim’s private information with a few clicks or keystrokes.

Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet and other electronic means to persecute and harass an individual, group or organization. These include surveillance, identity theft, threats, vandalism, solicitation and extortion. Cyberstalking can last much longer than following someone on a social network.

Cyberstalking is anonymous and requires the involvement of other people who do not know who the target is. For example, cyberstalkers can target their victims on social media, use trolling or send threatening messages, or hack into emails to communicate with victims’ contacts, including friends and employers. Stalking on social media can include fake photos and sending threatening private messages.

The process of stalking another person in real life presupposes that the perpetrator and victim are in close physical proximity. According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, cyberstalking is a threat to communications or unwanted advances aimed at another person through the Internet or other forms of online computer communication. Cyberstalkers are on the streets across the country and around the world, and their victims too. Victims of domestic violence need to be aware of the technology that makes cyberstalking even more difficult.

Maintain vigilance regarding physical access to your computer and other web-enabled devices such as mobile phones. Cyberstalkers often use software or hardware devices that are attached to the back of your PC, or something else you know to monitor their victims. Spyware and software that are used to monitor what is happening on your computer or mobile phone can give cyberstalkers enormous power and information.

While there are no criminal laws against cyberstalking in most states, contacting or harassing another person over the Internet or other technologies is considered a crime under some states’ stalking or harassment laws. It is important to know that you should be fine with the person you are contacting, but if their behavior starts to frighten you, it can be considered stalking or cyberstalking. So it’s a good idea to keep an eye on contacts and stalkers around you.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, cyberstalking is only one facet of cyberbullying. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the crime occurs in conjunction with about one in four stalking victims reporting cyber-stalking via email or instant messaging. Cyber-bullying refers to behavior between school-age children, while cyberstalking also applies to adults.

Cyberstalking is, by definition, the use of the Internet or other electronic means to harass or intimidate a selected victim. Common traits include, but are not limited to, classic stalking behavior: tracking a person’s whereabouts and monitoring their online and real-life activities. Cyberstalkers are known to install GPS devices in their victims cars, use geolocation spyware on their phones and track their victims’ whereabouts on social media.

Cyberstalking can also include other behaviors aimed at intimidating victims and making their lives unbearable. Live chat harassment is abuse of the victim by electronic sabotage, for example by flooding internet chat channels and interrupting victims’ conversations. A cyberstalker sets up a website with personal or fictitious information and requests from victims to readers. Cyberstalkers create postings about the victim and start rumors that spread through bulletin boards.

Cyberstalking is similar to cyberbullying and includes a pattern of stalking, harassment or threats by electronic means such as text messages, email, social media, dating profiles, comment topics and other social nodes on the Internet. For example, it’s a crime to use a telecommunication device to send a comment, request, suggestion, image or other message of obscene with the intent to abuse, threaten or to harass someone using the phone. In Florida, cyberstalking laws contain vague language that gives state law enforcement a lot of discretion in arresting those who do.

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