Social Media: The Digital You & The Social Stalker

Social Media: The Digital You & The Social Stalker

social-media-stalking

Social media stalkers can be dangerous.

With the explosion of social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc., the obstacles that an everyday stalker would have to jump through to get closer to you have been eliminated. The internet gives stalkers a new way to track you, follow you, and research your likes and dislikes.

Social media is your digital self and your tweets, posts, and likes are essentially your online fingerprints.

With all this personal information floating around the internet, there’s all kinds of social stalking going on. We’ve pulled together some examples for you to get you thinking about how you might better protect yourself from all the creepin’ that’s going on.

The Average-Joe Stalker (this might be you)

The Average-Joe Stalker is someone who uses google and social media to dig up info on love interest, a potential employee, future co-workers, or even their neighbor. I betcha you or someone you know has “facebook stalked’ or “google stalked” someone before going out on a date with someone or hiring someone. When there are potential risks to being in a relationship with someone, whether it’s buying a house next to them or marrying them, there is a basic curiousity that drives the Average-Joe Stalker. Admit it, this might be you.

Here’s why: Reading someone’s Facebook or Twitter feed can give you a good sense of who someone is, what their interests are and if they are pretending to be someone different.

Average-Joe Stalkers are the equivalent of the nosy neighbor syndrome. We’re not saying you should be too worried about it, but it should make you think about how private or public your tweets are.

The Ex-Stalker

Ever wonder what happened to your high school sweetheart? Or that woman you dated last year? Questions like these are natural. Before social media, we could have the questions and never get answers. All that has changed.

For example: If you wanted to catch up on an old flame, you could go to Facebook and simply type in a name. Facebook would produce a search result with a picture, and current whereabouts. Some people even use fake accounts, posing as a common acquaintance, to “friend” their exes and get more intel.

The explosion of online dating has created a new type of ex-stalking, where jilted lovers can keep score on failed dating partners to see who finds love first. It’s a little known phenomenon, but someone you dated might be tracking your success in love right now. Here’s how they do it. They create a fake online dating account, and follow your online dating profile. They’ll watch for signs that your still on the hunt such as activity posts, profile updates, and watching for any signs that you might have landed in a relationship. Online dating sites often provide one critical piece of information: the date that “this user last logged on.” As with all dating, the ups and downs can be pretty rough. Maybe these stalkers seek reassurance that they aren’t last in the racetrack towards finding love.

If you’re saying “this is something that I would never do,” consider this: A study by a Western University master’s candidate found that 88% of people stalk their exes on Facebook.

Even though “ex-stalking” has become a common practice, we still feel it’s pretty creepy. Be careful who you “friend” and take advantage of the privacy controls available on most social media platforms.

The Psycho Stalker

Now you have the creepiest of the creepiest. These are the kinds of stalkers who are looking to establish a long lasting intimate relationship. The kind that are fixated, or have some sort of sense entitlement to their victim. These are the kind of creeps who don’t care if you already in a committed relationship.

Let’s say for example:

Suzie loves to tweet and you start to monitor her daily posts. You pick up on everything like where she works, where she likes to lunch, where she goes to the gym, etc. One thing that you start to notice is that on a consistent basis, Suzie likes to go out for drinks with the girls every Thursday night at “Margaritas.” You then locate her on Facebook or Foursquare and try to discover her routines for any information on where she might be on any given day.

Now a stalker would see this opportunity as the best time to meet his lovely lady. He checks her Facebook page to confirm the location of “ladies night out”, checks to see what hairstyle she planned for him, and then he plans his attack. Social media could be giving truly disturbed stalkers the opportunity to feel connected to the object of their obsession.

The use of social networks, work websites, forums and directories, can all leave clues that can enable a stalker to track their victim, posing a threat to your home security. Online stalking is definitely happening more often because there is such an array of powerful tools at stalkers’ disposal making it easier.

Protect Yourself from Social Stalking

Thankfully, most of us won’t have to worry about being the target of a stalker. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t protect our privacy, as much as possible. Enjoy social media. Instagram until you make yourself sick, but do it in a safe way. Take 10 minutes to review the privacy tools available in all your social media profiles. It’s worth it.

Post syndicated with permision of Kevin Raposo. The original can be found here.

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Have you ever been a victim of social media stalking or known someone who has? Tell me in the comments!  

Please share this post with others who might not be as savvy about social media stalking and could benefit from this post. Thank you!

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  • http://www.justinbog.com Justin Bog

    wow, Amberr — this post gave me pause at all the possible ways people stalk one another. Eye-opening.

  • http://scarymarythehamsterlady.blogspot.com/ Mary Kirkland

    Oh yeah, you have to be careful who you allow as a friend on fb, what you post on twitter, what you allow others to see in your pictures ect.. It still amazes me that people don’t keep their fb profiles set to private. I do.

    My daughter calls me a Creeper. Because since she’s been on fb, I click on her friends profiles and look at their pages, pictures what they’ve been doing ect..because I wanted to see what types of people my daughter associating with. Frankly, I still do this and I see nothing wrong with it. My daughter may be 21 years old, but she’s still my kid. lol She can call me a creeper all she wants.

  • http://www.chewylicious.com Courtney

    You just totally creeped me out…okay not in a bad way just I mean…I KNEW it but I didn’t really PAY ATTENTION to it…maybe that’s why I started to change everything….but it’s not really helping…if someone really wanted to find me they could…I’m just ack! ….thanks for the list gonna go ….protect myself! >.< xoxo

  • http://www.rantravewrite.com Lynnette Conroy

    This is something that makes me twitchy. I love the social media world – I work from home and rarely see real people so it is often my only form of interaction w/ the outside world. But I have had some oddballs – including someone who went through literally every blog post I’ve ever written over the course of 2 days, and a client who deleted some of my info and looked me up online, plugging in old data that I found the next time I worked w/ them. I tightened up a lot of my security on FB and the like, but the whole point of the blog is open forum. But I do keep an eye on subscribers!!

  • http://www.biculturalmama.com Bicultural Mama

    As you know I had a troll recently who I was afraid would become a full fledge stalker. Definitely need to be careful what info we put out there with all the crazies around!

  • http://tracycampbell.net/blog Tracy Campbell

    Hi Amberr,
    So glad you posted about this “creepy” subject.
    I have a stalker, not one that will harm me I hope, but one who’s obsessed knowing what I’m up to. That’s why I only post things that are not personal. I don’t use Twitter, don’t have time. Still have to get on Facebook, but again it would be related only to my writing and artwork.

    I do agree with Mary, when it comes to our children creeping them on Facebook is just good parenting.

    Thanks,
    Tracy

  • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo (@theworld4realz)

    I will admit to some cyber-stalking of my own, but I’m always quite open about it. For example, I recently found an ex of mine & we friended each other on FB & chatted a couple times, & were happy to see we each ended up in healthy relationships. So that worked out! I somehow managed to keep in touch over time & long distances with my first two high school boyfriends, & we celebrate each others successes in life. And fortunately for me, I haven’t had to stalk my 19yo son because, oddly enough, he has friended me & all my extended fam on FB & talks with us regularly. Even more strange (I know how lucky I am, believe me!), his friends friended me as well — a couple of them even read my blog! Social media is a strange things which can be as wonderful as it is dangerous. I haven’t run into too many problems being on the opposite end of the stalking issue, & am hoping it stays that way, but since I am so accessible, it won’t be hard for anyone to track me down. If I disappear for more than a week, you guys know to come looking for me, LMAO!!! :)

  • http://www.bipolarly.com Amy Purdy

    Common sense seems to leave most of us from time to time when it comes to social networking. It’s very easy to share too much and not really think about ALL the people who may potentially see it. I’ve noticed a lot of people who use their phone to post where they are at on Facebook, and this makes it way too easy for someone to know the exact location of someone, maybe even how long they will be there, judging by whatever else the person has posted on their wall. You have to really stop and think about what you are posting. I try to keep a check on my privacy settings because every once in a while Facebook will change something and it throws my settings back to a default where some stuff may be viewed by people who are not on my friends’ list. And then there are people on my list that I accepted friend requests from who apparently went to school with me (or did they?) but I don’t remember them…totally need to delete some of those. You just never know who’s following your every move online, and why. It’s scary.