What can I do about online stalking?

Answered by Douglas Hiatt

Online stalking can be a distressing and invasive experience, and it is important to take immediate action to protect yourself. Here are some steps you can take to address online stalking:

1. Clearly communicate your boundaries: Start by directly telling the person to stop contacting you. Be firm and assertive in your message, clearly stating that you do not want any further communication. Avoid engaging in arguments or discussions with them, as it may only escalate the situation.

2. Document evidence: Keep records of any harassing or stalking behaviors, such as screenshots of messages, emails, or any other interactions. This documentation can serve as evidence if you need to involve authorities later on.

3. Block the person: Most social media platforms provide the option to block users. Take advantage of this feature to prevent the stalker from contacting you further. Additionally, make sure your privacy settings are configured to restrict the stalker’s access to your personal information.

4. Report the harassment to the platform: Report the stalking behavior to the social media platform where it is occurring. Each platform typically has a reporting mechanism that allows you to flag abusive or harassing content. By reporting the issue, you contribute to keeping the online community safe.

5. Inform your friends and family: Share the situation with trusted friends and family members, making them aware of the stalking behavior. This not only provides you with emotional support, but also ensures they can be vigilant and avoid inadvertently sharing your personal information with the stalker.

6. Consider involving law enforcement: If the stalking persists or escalates, it may be necessary to involve law enforcement. Provide them with all the documented evidence and information you have gathered. They can guide you through the legal steps required to protect yourself and potentially apprehend the stalker.

7. Notify their internet service provider (ISP): If the stalking behavior continues despite taking the above steps, consider contacting the stalker’s internet service provider. They may be able to take action against the individual for violating their terms of service.

8. Protect your online presence: Review your social media profiles and ensure that you have strong privacy settings in place. Limit the amount of personal information available publicly and be cautious about accepting friend requests or connections from unknown individuals.

9. Educate yourself: Take the time to educate yourself about online safety and privacy. Understand the privacy settings of the platforms you use and regularly review and update them as needed. Stay informed about the latest online threats and scams, and be cautious about sharing personal information online.

Remember, your safety is paramount. If you ever feel threatened or unsafe, do not hesitate to reach out to professionals who can offer guidance and support, such as law enforcement or organizations specializing in cybercrime.