While technological advances in social media like Facebook have done wonders for connecting people and bringing them together, it has also done a great deal of harm and has increased the instances of stalking and cyberstalking exponentially. There are some things that you should know about Facebook stalking that will help you understand these phenomena and really see what is happening.
What is Facebook Stalking?
The first question to answer is, of course, just what does it mean to be Facebook stalked or to participate in Facebook stalking? There are a couple of connotations when it comes to this phrase and it is essential that you understand both.
First, Facebook stalking in a light-hearted way is not actually stalking but rather checking up on someone’s profile and looking at it more than once a day. This can be done purely out of curiosity, they may be a friend; they may be posting things that interest you. This is not all that serious and should not be considered something that is punishable by law so it should not be taken by the police.
The other type of Facebook stalking is a bit more serious. In some cases, people who have been given restraining orders, who have been kept from other people, and who are generally not to follow someone else may use Facebook as a means of keeping track of someone. This is often something that is used by exes and other people who are serious about stalking but who do not want to do it in person.
This is very dangerous because it does offer them an avenue to stalk even if they do not physically stalk the person and they can still keep tabs on them. According to several sources, including the Guardian, cyberstalking is now more common in the UK than face-to-face stalking, making Facebook stalking a huge issue.
Who is Viewing My Profile? What Should I Do? The ECHO Survey
A study conducted in the UK at Bedford University by ECHO (Electronic Communication Harassment Observation) has made some bold claims about the identity of the common cyber stalker.
In most cases, the study found that the stalker is far less likely to be someone who actually knows you. In most cases, the study found that cyber stalkers were more likely to be people that you have never met. Though Facebook and other programs do allow you to come in contact with people across the globe, it also puts stalkers in contact with their victims even if they have never met them face to face.
There are also computer programs that allow viewers to answer the question, who viewed my Facebook profile? You can often run programs that will keep track of how many people visit your profile and who those people are. It is, however, important to remember with these programmes that they do collect personal information about your page and from your computer, which is something that you may not want to have done.
How Can I Use the Information I collect? Making a Case
There are a few different ways to use the information that you gain from an app that answers the question of who looks at your Facebook. First and foremost, if you are using one of these programmes to prove that someone is stalking you, there are a few different steps you need to go through. In order to prove that you have a case, you must first have some sort of proof that they are stalking you. The reports that come from one of these programs can help.
In many cases, studies of internet users in the UK found that the most commonly stalked group was young adults rather than teens. In most cases, the harassment came from peers and from those individuals who were older than them. Of the people surveyed, the majority of those who were cyberstalked were between the ages of 20 and 39. Though the study did talk to victims from all age ranges, the major group age was 20 to 39. Why is this group most likely to be stalked, you may ask? The answer is hard to come by; without further research, we may not know the answer.
You should make sure that you have a reliable program that is not spam or malware. You can often find out how good a program is by simply conducting a search and looking at reviews for each program. In most cases, those programmes that you need to pay for are going to be a bit more reliable, but there are also some programmes that are free that are great for gathering information.
The British Crime Survey of 2006 determined that up to five million people experience cyberstalking each year. The Protection from Harassment Act of 1997 was put in place to deal with stalking but does not mention cyber stalking as it was not a common crime at the time.
On top of finding a reliable program, you also need to take a sample for a long enough period of time. You need to make sure that you are not looking at too short of a period of time and that you are not looking at too long of a period, either. A safe amount of time that is usually enough to determine if cyberstalking is actually occurring is one to two months. This will give the courts and police an accurate look at the activity of the person being looked at for a long enough period of time to determine that they are not nominally interested and that they are, in fact, trying to stalk you.
Reporting Your Case to the Proper Authorities
The first step to catching any stalker is to establish a pattern. If you notice, for instance, that someone is looking at your profile on a certain day of the week more than others, that they are posting at a certain time, or that they are more active in certain periods, this can help you establish a timeline and see just what is going on.
After you have established a pattern, you need to collect your information. Online stalking is just as serious as physical stalking because it almost always leads to physical stalking. It is important to take a moment to see just what is going on and that you have the right information to press charges.
In most reported cases victims stated that it was difficult to get the police to take the issue seriously. The best case scenario for anyone that is stalked either on the internet or in person is to report it, get support to deal with the issue, and gather the evidence that is needed to catch the perpetrator.
The laws have yet to catch up with the technology in this case, and in many states, there is not really any case law that can help prosecute these stalkers. However, there are some federal laws in place that make the harassment of a person online or in person illegal. With the right information, the right proof, and the right items, you can help prove that you feel threatened and that you are, in fact, in danger which will make a court take notice.
After getting your pattern established, getting your information and your timeline, you can then take the time to go to the proper authorities. It is not always best to take the information to the police but rather to take it to someone in a position of authority. If you are a child or you are in school, you may want to take it to the principal, your teachers, and more. If you are an adult however and you are not in school and you feel you have a strong case, you should take it to the police.
In most cases, police stations have cyber task forces that are able to look at your computer and see what is happening and see what has happened and to see who has looked at your Facebook page. You can also take the information to other sources like private detectives that can help you look and see who has been looking at your profile.
What Can You Do About Facebook Stalking?
There are a few different things that you can do about Facebook and cyberstalking. In some cases, it is as simple as getting offline. If you take yourself away from the access to you online you may be able to stop the stalking. In some cases, however, stalkers will take it a step further and will start stalking people through other people’s pages, through other means, and even through physical stalking.
You may also want to consider removing these people from your friend’s list, from any friend you may have, and you may want to reevaluate your privacy settings. This can help keep people from having access to your page and therefore limit their access to your page.
If this does not work and you feel as if you are in danger, you may want to take the time to take legal action. Though you cannot bar someone from using the internet, you can get a physical restraining order against them to keep the stalking from escalating to physical stalking. This may help keep you safe if you fear they may hurt you in the long run.
The ECHO survey is the most up-to-date and efficient data that we have at our disposal when it comes to cyberstalking and its statistics of it. Though there is no sure-fire way to ask who is looking at my Facebook or who views my Facebook profile, there are Facebook stalking app programmes in the works that can help you catch your Facebook stalker.
For more help on how to deal with stalking in the UK, you can visit The National Stalking Helpline’s Website, or the Stalking and Harassment Victim Support Website.