How to Keep Yourself Safe from Cyberstalkers

11:26:00 PM

Cyberstalking. When do you know if you've crossed the line from curious to stalking?

Looking over profiles.

Yep. Keep telling yourself that.

I admit to doing it, friends admit to doing it, and there's a good chance you've done it at some point too.

We do it to check if a person's account is legit, this is especially true if you have online transactions with a person which is very prevalent in the Philippines.

What happens if it's the other way around?

What if it's your profile they're looking at?

You're lucky if it's just your friends, some people you've met at an event, coworkers, maybe your future employers, and a couple of harmless haters or fans who are going through your profile. But since we can't control other people's intentions, there's an off chance you might be getting the wrong attention and pointing them to your vulnerabilities (like how alone you are at the moment or what your daily routine is) without you meaning to.

In the digital age, it's so easy to run through someone's profile to check what they're up to, what they do and if you can connect for business. Or dating.

So when is it a healthy curiosity and when is it considered "cyberstalking"?

According to this article from BBC...

"you've gone to far in your online activities if you know your actions are upsetting another person: 'Once you are causing fear and distress through your communication and you know the communication is unwanted then you are engaged in harassment which is against the law.'
It also states that..

"Even if you're not actually contacting a person, looking for details of their lives obsessively, can be harmful, according to Dr Short.'If you're making no contact with them and they are unaware of it, it's still quite predatory behaviour' she says."
Yikes! If you've been doing this, stop. It's time to make friends with the outside world and keep your sanity.

For the rest of you who can't possibly know whose attention you've attracted, how can you protect yourself from these people who do not have your best intentions at heart?

The very first thing I would recommend is:

Do an audit of your social media profile and your app-titude.

  1. Do you know what is visible to your public audience?
  2. Do you know how to make your posts private?
  3. Do you know all the friends you have in your account?
  4. Are you aware that there's such a thing as putting your friends in groups and you can limit some friends from seeing your post?
  5. Are you bummed enough about privacy to actually start segregating your friends and limiting your posts' visibility from hereon?

If you answered yes to most of these questions and you're willing to put the hours to get your Facebook and other social media profiles to become more stalker-proof then you can stop reading now. If you answered no to most and especially to number 5, here's why you should be more diligent...

Let me show you the five disturbing ways cyberstalkers can get to you:

  1. Making your daily routine public, like where you work, or where you go to school is a certified way to get stalked. It's cool to get connected sharing the same school but them knowing that detail including the people you hang out with, might just give them enough information to track you down.
  2. Friends list. Keep them private and qualify friend requests. See, we sometimes add people based on mutual friends. Before I add mutual friends, I make sure I know the people they know or we belong in the same industry. One of their friends is someone I trust. And if they're in the same industry, they actually post about the industry. Also, they can stalk you through your friends list. They can find out who you hang out with. They can click your friend's profile to find out where you are or what you're up to.
  3. Skip the real-time and public posts of family and friends and checking in to places. I once had someone who wanted to date me appear at a cafe after posting that I was there. Random but creepy.

    It can't be helped tho, I know. Restaurants and vacation places offer prizes for posting about them and using their hashtags. As a blogger, we kind of have to comply with doing those during events and posting in real time as well. I guess that's the only time it's safe to do that: when you're at an event where you'll know you'll be surrounded by a lot of people. Not when you're hanging out by your lonesome.
  4. Which leads us to five, don't post about being alone. Ever. Whether you're at home or in a public place.
  5. I'm very wary of fake profiles. One way to know if they're real is if their photos are good-looking yet pixelated. And the account is recently made.

I know some people want nothing more than their privacy and have all their profile including display photo private.

I'm not one of those people.

I make money and business through Facebook and my social media accounts. I need an online presence somehow.

If you're like me and you need social media for business or your career, just craft a public persona that's controlled.

Curb your profile according to how you want to be seen.

How to do that?

Keep your personal details out of the public eye. Think of any detail a person can use to steal your identity...

-your mom's maiden name

-your parent's name
-your birthday
-your complete name
-your complete home address
-your nickname
-the cities you've lived in

Put this in one place and BOOM! you just provided a random person a way to use your personal data for whatever purpose they would deem it best.

You can do this instead: Put a public profile that summarizes what you do so you can have people of the same interest (or in the same business) get in touch with you. Add your website, if you have that.

What safety precautions have you done to keep yourself safe from cyberstalkers? Would you follow the steps I laid out? Let me know in the comments below!

#MakeItSafePH is a campaign by Globe that provides tips and information regarding the online security of business and consumers from numerous Internet threats. This post is powered by Globe.

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