Cyber harassment: Ways to protect yourself
KJ Mullins-Toronto: Making friends online is one of the benefits of social networking but what happens if that ‘friend’ goes off the deep end? There are countless stories of people becoming victimized by someone from the Internet. How can you protect yourself?
From harassment to murder, police are dealing today with victims not only from street level but from the cyber space area.
When it comes to basic harassment what kind of steps can you take to protect yourself from a ‘friend’ you have met online?
These ‘friends’ target their victims with obsession. If they are ignored some will seek revenge using the information they learned from you to destroy business contacts, interfere with your family and turn your life upside down.
Cyberstalking is illegal and is considered to be a form of mental assault. These crimes can be dangerous, one out of four of the 600 cases referred to the Sex Crimes Unit of the NYPD in a recent study involved cyber-stalking reports Canada’s Department of Justice.
When you are being harassed most people want to cut the cord quickly with their stalker. When it comes to cyberstalking you have to clearly tell them not to communicate with you in the future. You can also copy that message and send it to the abuse department of their ISP. Keep a copy of this message. From that point on do not respond to any further messages from your stalker.
While you no longer communicate with your stalker do not delete messages from them. Save every communication that they send to you. If the stalker makes phone calls to you contact the phone company so that they can trace the calls right away. You should also make a report of the harrassment to your local police service. If you are in school alert your principle and the school’s resource officer.
Robert Cairns, a Social Media expert who has been in the computer security business for 15 years, said during an interview that one key thing is to never say anything in SM that could compromise you.
Cairns, who not only is an expert but has experienced cyberbullying himself, also stresses the need to document any contact a stalker makes with you.
“I suggest keeping a journal of the communications,” Cairns said, “You should also let trusted members of your Social Network know what is going on. They can alert you if they see messages going out about you.”
If you are being harassed calling your lawyer is another step you may want to take along with changing your phone number.
“Being stalked online is very stressful,” Cairns said, “You should let your significant other and your doctor know what you are dealing with. You can also alleviate some of that stress by taking a break from Social Media.”
Cyberstalking is happening everyday. By being proactive you can stop the problem but be aware if you are a victim there may be a need to do damage control.