A: Your concerns are certainly valid. According to advocacy group Working to Halt Online Abuse (WHO@), an estimated 1 in 12 women in the US has experienced stalking online or offline. Specifically singling out cyberstalkers, slightly over half know their victims personally beforehand, such as in your case.
The internet and social media has made stalking others as easy as a click on the keyboard – a drastic change from the limited options my heroine’s 1836 London stalker is limited to in my novel, Audra. Today, there can be significant consequences to putting too much information online!
We’ve heard some of the common tips, such as avoiding suggestive screen names (or worse, you real name), never giving out details like your phone number or physical address. But most importantly, you should have strict privacy settings on all of your social media accounts. And never, ever – let me repeat that – never – post information about your personal whereabouts or hangouts. This can leave your home open to break-ins or unpleasant run-ins at your favorite restaurant/movie theater/bowling alley on what should be a fun night out with your significant other and/or children!
Bottom line, rather than leave yourself open to unnecessary risks, use safe internet practices. And don’t brush off cyberstalking because you want it to go away! Chances are it will not go away unless you make it go away. You can try asking the stalker to stop, but if that does not work, trying blocking all emails from them. And above all, if you feel you are in danger, collect all your evidence of stalking and alert law enforcement immediately.
The website for WHO@ – Working to Halt Online Abuse is full of invaluable information.