It all starts with a small interaction: A like on your social media post, or a harmless hello. Eventually, your intuition will tell you something’s off, and you’d be clueless on how to address this creep *monitoring* your every move.
If you feel that someone seems to be aware of what you're up to 24/7, you may be a victim of cyberstalking, a type of harassment carried out online. You may be receiving threats, aggressively sexual comments, and even slander.
Cyberstalkers’ motives may vary, from trying to “control or intimidate the victim or to gather information for use in other crimes, like identity theft or offline stalking,” according to the Philippine National Police.
How To Know If You Could Be An “Easy Target”
Though it’s not bad to be friendly on social media, people who have many public posts are more prone to cyberstalking. It is recommended that you keep your social posts private, and take advantage of “customize” features to ensure that only your trusted circle will see your personal posts. (On Instagram, you can have a Close Friends list; on Facebook, you can control who can see your posts; and on Twitter, there's Twitter Circle)
You should never post a “right now” photo that hints at your current location. Never post a picture of your gate or your neighborhood, and refrain from posting selfies at home. (Your condo or house's view could help someone determine *exactly* where you live.)
Also, remember that it is *never* your fault if someone wants to harm you. These are all measures you can try to minimize the risks of being stalked.
More Ways To Keep Yourself Safe, According To PNP’s Anti-Cybercrime Group
- Stop oversharing: Limit the personal information you intend to share on social media and in your emails.
- Reset Your Passwords: It can be cumbersome remembering new ones but it’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Experts have recommended various ways on how to create a stronger password.
- Hide your IP Address: Your IP address is linked to a lot of sensitive information—from your online bills to credit cards. “Cyberstalkers can begin with your IP address and use it to find your credit card data and physical address,” PNP added.
- Don’t divulge sensitive Information: Be selective with questionnaires or applications you need to fill out. If possible, provide generic data instead. “By filling out questionnaires or submitting applications for coupons, you are increasing the likelihood of someone getting their hand on your personal data and possibly making cyberstalking more accessible,” said the PNP.
ICYMI, we are protected by the Safe Spaces Act RA 11313. It addresses all forms of sexual harassment, recognizing that both men and women must have equality, security, and safety not only in private, but also on the streets, public spaces, online, as well as in work places and educational institutions. (Read more about it here: What Is The Safe Spaces Act?)
If you feel unsafe, reach out to authorities ASAP.
Stay safe, Cosmo Girls!