Cyberstalking Threatening behaviors or unwanted
advances that use Web technolo-
Rapid technological advances have given rise to an intrusive form of harassment gies as weapons for stalking and that occurs in cyberspace rather than a work environment. Cyberstalking refers to a harassment.
process in which a person is harassed on the Internet. Almost 1 million Americans are victimized by cyberstalking each year, a majority of whom are women (Ginty, 2011). Cyberstalking encompasses threatening behaviors or unwanted advances that use Web technologies as weapons for stalking and harassment.
Cyberstalking can take many forms. Some people are victimized by former date partners who may post disparaging comments about them on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace or angry "tweets" on Twitter. Some cyberstalkers use blogs to stalk and denigrate their victims. For example, a California woman and founder of Survivors in Action reported that her abuser would create negative blogs about her and post messages on existing blog sites claiming that she was a "sluttty whore" (Ginty, 2011). An Oklahoma woman was victimized by a cyberstalker who posted threatening videos about her on YouTube ( Ginty, 2011).
Cyberstalking is fueled by two major factors: the very rapid evolution of various technologies that create instantaneous large audiences and the nonchalance with which people use this technology to divulge personal details about their lives. In our discussion of Internet relationships in Chapter 7, we described how the anonymity of the Internet often allows people to express themselves with abandon. People communicating online often lose track of normal boundaries that are present in face-to-face relationships and thus may be more inclined to reveal intimate details that later can be used against them in episodes of cyberstalking. When a date goes wrong or after a nasty breakup, the jilted/rejected person can use these personal details to stalk and harass his or her victim in cyberspace.
Individuals can take several steps to reduce the possibility of being victimized by cyberstalking. These methods, outlined in an excellent article by Molly Ginty (2011), include creating passwords that are difficult to crack, being selective when admitting others to a person’s location on a social networking site, not providing personal information on the Internet, and immediately alerting both police and the providers of Internet services and sites where stalking threats occur.