How do I know if I have a cyberstalker?

Security & Privacy

A lot of people out there seem to be creeped out at the thought that they might have a stalker following their online activities. They want to know who is viewing their profiles, looking at their photos, reading their status updates and how often.

On Facebook, there have been many applications advertised to let you find this information and all of them are fakes. It’s a good thing, too. These applications may satisfy your curiosity, but they treat all of the friends that you added to your profile as potential stalkers. Even if it were possible to find a Facebook application that reveals your profile views, by using that application to find stalkers you would become the very thing that you were trying to avoid. You’d be stalking your friends’ online activities and snooping on actions that they believed were their own, private actions.

Recently, professional site LinkedIn have removed anonymity from profile views, based on a user setting. MySpace have a similar feature: if you want to see who views your profile, you must let them see your activity. If you consider how frequently Facebook is changed, it seems that there is every chance that Facebook will add the same feature in the future. Facebook also have a disturbing policy of enabling new settings by default. It hasn’t happened yet, but it is a reason to be vigilant. If you want to sacrifice your privacy in order to satisfy your curiosity it should be your choice and the choice of those who do not want to sacrifice their privacy should be respected as well.

So, do you have a stalker?

The first thing to get clear in a discussion about stalking is what stalking actually is. That way we can avoid persecuting and humiliating innocent people with the reputation-damaging label “stalker”.

A stalker is not someone who views your social profiles. It is not someone who views your page a lot. It is not someone who views your photos and it is not even someone who downloads them. None of these activities automatically make someone a stalker.

If you are really being stalked it is a serious matter. It is illegal in at least some countries, as a form of threat and harassment.

The US legal definition states that not only do you have to be followed, but it is “with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear of death or serious bodily harm” (I suggest you read the whole definition here).

Cyber stalking also involves high levels of harassment, distress and the intent to track down and meet a person in the physical world. To reduce the chance that someone can trace you in the physical world you can read our guides on using location-based Facebook and how to use Twitter safely.

I have to suggest that before you accuse someone of being a stalker you should think very carefully. Are you really under threat of death or injury just because someone views your photos online? Photos that you published yourself? Because when you put things online, your social profiles, your location, your pictures, your thoughts, your job description, you are publishing it.

If you are reading this and you do have a real stalker, if you are living in fear of physical harm, then contact local law enforcement.

Now that I have that warning out of the way, I can give you some practical tips in case you are curious about how much your profiles are getting viewed. I know that a lot of people have encountered this blog by searching for ways to discover so-called stalkers or to find out how to track people online better. I know because I can see how searchers came to this site. Yes, I can see that.

If you look around you can find there are several sites and services that give you viewing statistics. I already mentioned the features in MySpace and LinkedIn, which allow you to see the details of your viewers so long as you are willing to reveal your details to them. That’s a nice way to do it.

Blogging sites offer statistical views of how many views you have for each post and where the posts have been linked. This is still somewhat anonymous, but that should be fine. It is still a lot of information.

YouTube even have a little statistics area that can be opened up from underneath each video that tells you the age, gender and country of the video’s viewers and which link or search brought them to the video.

Facebook? The best advice I can give you is this: Why don’t you just ask?

Ask your friends and they might even tell you. You can also use common sense: Find out who comments most often and who ‘likes’ the most photos and status updates; the chances are that they view your profile the most often and that they are also very active Facebook users.

Of course, going through your Facebook Friends’ list and removing anyone you do not trust personally is always a good idea.

Here on Safe and Savvy we have a lot of posts related to online privacy. If you are still curious then take a look at our archives and subscribe to our RSS Feed.

22 Comments

If someone is visiting your online profiles & such very (even creepingly) often, s/he’s probably indeed not a “stalker” but rather likes you and would want to become (more) acquintanted with you. There’re chances that the feelings are quite romantic as well!

That’s true and I don’t encourage calling someone names just because they happen to like you more than you like them. If they’re just quietly checking you out and not harrassing you, then it shouldn’t be a big deal.
Thanks, Sakari.

I have a serious cyber stalker emailing to me thr my posts in social media site. He wrote with different email addresses:

“Atlanta?? Now who is making things up? You keep guessing nancy/jomie, you have never got it right. You’re still a whore, still old, not not an “hkbeauty” no matter how many times you change your email. And we still laugh at the tired old whore that can do no better than fuck a guy that she happens to pick up in a nightclub. You’ll never make your mum happy that way….”

What can I do ?

Hi,

That sounds like pretty serious harrassment and I am glad you asked for help.

I found a really nice guide from a group calling thmeselves Wired Saftety: http://www.wiredsafety.org/cyberstalking_harassment/index.html

Read through the links about cyber harrassment, especially the tip list: http://www.wiredsafety.org/cyberstalking_harassment/csh10.html

If you’re changing your e-mail and they are still finding you, you might want to try changing your password too. You want to make sure it is something that you can remember, but other people can’t guess. We have some advice on that here, on our lab blog: http://www.f-secure.com/weblog/archives/00001691.html

[…] We’ve been blogging for less than a year. In that time, we’ve talked about quitting Facebook and what to do if you stay. We’ve covered the best methods for backing up your content and how to make sure your web cam isn’t spying on you. And we’ve told you about what happens when you get robbed in the World of Warcraft and how to find out if you have a cyberstalker. […]

This is going to sound completely retarded, and I’ll try to keep it short… but I’ve been checking a girl’s profile out about once a day, but it’s private so all I can see is her picture and maybe some basic profile info. This has been going on for months, but I think she is absolutely gorgeous and I can’t stop. We’ll say her name is Megan. My GF (Ashley) works at a local restaurant, and the other day, the restaurant received a phone call (around 7:30 or 8 AM) from a person by the name of Megan asking for my GF. My GF wasn’t in at the time so the employee just told the girl Megan that she could call back later.

Megan just ended the phone call by saying that she’d be in later to see if my GF was there. My GF told me about this because she thought it was weird and IMMEDIATELY I thought it could have been the girl I’ve been looking at a lot. And maybe she’s found out somehow and is going to tell my GF. The million dollar question is if Facebook has notified Megan that her profile has been receiving a lot of views from my profile (or IP address). I know that third party apps don’t work so I’m not worried about them at all. I am mainly worried that Facebook itself has notified Megan that I have been viewing her profile a lot and has advised her to take necessary precautions. I wouldn’t think that this would be the case, but it seems very odd. Ever since my GF told me about the girl calling I have been freaking out. Wanted to get someone’s opinion on it.

Bet your girlfriend has your password for facebook or you forget to logout, she is probably reviewing your history? She’s probably trying to make “you” aware that “she” is aware of your viewing this individual. Maybe change your password or give up the girlfriend…I see nothing wrong with looking BUT this is a little creepy?

There is an absolutely foolproof way to ensure that you are not subject to “cyber-stalking” (whatever that actually is) and that is not to place all your personal details on-line in the first place.

People who do should remember that anything that is published on-line is then “out there”. The nature of electronic media is that it doesn’t fade away or automatically get deleted if you don’t use it or any other such nonsense. Those details will forever be stored upon some server somewhere. That is the essence of the electronic age, the Internet and social networking sites in particular. It’s partly how such sites make money.

Ask yourself this. Would you make a large sign and write on it all your personal details such as full name, age, sex, location, relationships, occupation and social activities and then add pictures of some of your most intimate or embarrassing moments plus lurid details of how much you drunk on a particular occasion and with whom you had sex afterwards? Would you then hang it outside your front door? Would you make multiple copies of it and distribute them to whoever asked?

No? Really? Millions of people do just that on-line! Why is it that people post all this information (and sometimes more) on Facebook and then are surprised and worried that others view it? If they didn’t want it to be seen, why did they publish it in the first place?

The Internet is not anonymous. If you value your privacy, don’t do anything on-line that you would not do in the real world. Remember that and you will have no more chance of being “cyber-stalked” than you would of being pursued in real life.

companies and websites often force you to enter personal data, sometimes even phone numbers to verify your account. Your tips don’t work, I tried to keep all my personal data of the internet, but I just get less real life mail and companies tell me to log in through the internet. Since I only use hotmail, I even have to look at invoices on the internet. Facebook wanted to know all sorts of details that I wasn’t comfortable with, but seeing that I saw my friends and family having filled in some basic personal information I went ahead and did that too so I could connect with them as friends under my real name. Other social media sites in turn ask for access to facebook data to quickly make an account. The same with google+. I try to keep things disconnected, change my name/private information in google+, youtube, msn (or whateer it’s called now through hotmail, messenger or something) and other social media sites, but it’s just getting trickier and trickier and none of it makes any different to me being a targeted individual for gang stalking, a much broader way of cyberstalking and manipulating anyone I come into contact with on the internet or in real life to play right into their cards (usually by not understanding what’s going on and ignoring the problem, responding to the manipulation). You can google gang stalking on the internet but there’s too much misinformation to make sense of it, nd they won’t mention much about how it goes on social media and with the manipulation of someone you might want to talk to (they create an environment in which normal communication becomes impossible, isolating the target and playing mindgames).

hi dear i hope u can explain < i want just to know ….. someone send me and saying " i am crying everday cause u failure to me , you dont love me . i can't live without you . i can't leave you . if u dont help me i am about leave you and delete it … u know i do love u but , i know u dont love me ! if u leave me i will kill myself … if u don't help me i hate you !! i want to know what is mean suppose that !! what is he plan up to something else .

i am female

thanks marte

This definitely sounds like a disturbing email. If you feel threatened at all, you should contact local law enforcement immediately.

Feel reassured reading this, I had a fallout with an old school friend and she began running me down to our friends, I don’t even know what I did to make her turn nasty on me but then she began looking at my posts on twitter making ugly remarks, not using my name and someone told me to go and have a look, I began making sniping remarks back and then realised it would set a pattern so I first made my tweets private, then I got follow requests from her kids even! I have terminated the account, it seemed the logical thing to do,after all I can set up another twit account and I lost the hassle not the profile.

If a stalker(s) feels that their harassment is not effective, one of their favorite things to do is slander and defamation of character. They will make up horrible lies about their target, often creating entire web pages devoted to bashing their target, in an attempt to ruin his or her life. They will utilize any means possible to create a living hell for their target. Many stalkers work in groups and participate in what is known as “Gang Stalking”. Gang stalking is more dangerous for the simple fact that when more than one person is doing the stalking, the evidence is spread out between many sources, thereby making it impossible to use the law to prevent and punish such actions. There NEEDS to be new laws put in place protecting individuals from harassment and threats places by GROUPS of people, and not just single victims of online harassment.

Mike Davies is clearly not making fun of gang stalking because he’s ignorant about cyber harassment. So why is he doing it then? Why is he ridiculing your comment?

Gang stalking happens a lot, and people getting manipulated to ridicule it, or dismiss it because of ridicule are best ignored, I’m sad I responded to his other comment earlier now that I see what he thinks of gang stalking.

I have no idea if you’re being honest or also making fun of my situation as a targeted individual for gang stalking (maybe the whole site), I’ve got no idea what google led me to anyway. But besides that, I’m glad to read your comment and somehow imagine I’m not alone in this. Perhaps my comment will do the same for you even though you might have the same trust issues as me now.

Next time someone makes a comment about gang stalking I’d like to see a bit more details how this is being applied on social media, in particular there where many chatters can talk to one person, that is being manipulated/harassed by these chatters with repetitive phrases and symbols in the chat (trolling comments or signalling comments for a change in …well everything, a different atmosphere is created).

Since making fun of gang stalking or just ignoring any questions about it is a very effective form of isolating someone who would like to know what’s going on exactly, this also happens a lot both in real life and social media. It becomes very difficult to tell who’s ignorant and who’s pretending to be ignorant. So if anyone out there is honestly ignorant about this phenomenon and form of cyberharassment and stalking, please don’t make fun of it or stay so ignorant about it that you play right into the cards of those who love doing this to people they don’t like because they are making fun of it.

Cyberstalking / Gang Stalking, Chennai, India.

A cyberstalker who has the intention to harass you will LET YOU KNOW that he is harassing you. They get a rush / thrill out of letting their victims get angry and frustrated.
Those who watch silently , the novices can be stopped by regular Security Updates from Windows and a good antivirus like Norton , the professionals no one can stop, only way to escape them is not to have a computer at home and use library and internet cafe computers…..

what is it called when the step mother of your child doesn’t like the fact that her dad has to pay child support and is digging for things about me….she has sent me a request on linkedin account, listed herself as a find on my mylife, unblocked me from facebook to see things they won’t see…but i found dirt on this person and my daughters father. Everything I see suspicious I send it to guardian ad litem who was on the case two years ago when her dad tried to take me for custody. and lost. It seems they are trying to find whatever they can find to take me again, only They are not going to find anything on me. I don’t do anything wrong. I had to delete my faebook, delete my linkedin and my mylife accounts as well as my google profile due to someone i dont know asking if they can talk to me and this is while all the other stuff is going on. What is that when people are trying to find things on you online constantly.

Based on your writing style, I’d guess that you were caught in a bit of whirlwind, one in which you may or may not have been the exact center. I assume you are the child for whom child support is or was being paid, and over whom a custody battle was being waged? Hopefully this has resolved itself by now. I’m only answering this 1 year and five months after you posted this question because I only just read it, and to a) respond where Someone should have, b) to let you know that, yes, isolating yourself from social media was probably the right call, and c) if anyone else reading this post in search for an answer to a similar problem.

When people are trying to find information on you that can give them an advantage in a legal proceeding, or just to gain information about you that might be used in other ways to cast you in a bad light; either socially among your peers, or in the public eye, it is not called anything. It is neither illegal nor unusual. So, if things haven’t settled down, use text-messaging and phone calls to stay in touch with loved ones, and stay away from social media. Getting any record at all from either of the two former methods of communication requires cause, and a court order. Anything you post willingly on Facebook, or other types of social media, are up for grabs. There is no expectation of privacy, not yet, not even if you tried to exclude anyone but a small group of people. There is also this, the most important part of the Miranda warning, you may have heard of it, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be and will be used against you”. All this means is, in any legal situation, talk to your lawyer and never talk to the opposing side except as advised by council.

Unfortunately, YouTube analytics are completely unreliable when a cyberstalker is hiding behind a proxy server.

This material is dated. Thanks to the rise in suicides, malice intent does not require physical threats.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

You might also like