4 signs someone might be stalking you online

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Being stalked online is not only creepy but can lead to dangerous and terrifying outcomes. Stalkers are often after more than just your photographs and could uncover private information and use it to blackmail or scam you.

Trevor Cooke, an online privacy expert at EarthWeb, shares the four most common signs of online stalking to look out for.

Excessive Messaging And Commenting

If you notice that a specific user is sending you messages constantly and commenting on all of your posts, this may be a red flag. ‘If it’s not a distant Aunt who doesn’t quite understand social media, then it’s probably someone with malicious intentions,’ warns Trevor. We all have family members who interact a little bit too much on social media, and although it is annoying, it is harmless. But if you notice someone displaying the same familiar behaviors and you have no idea who they are, that’s a different story.

‘The fastest action you can take to stop this potential stalker in their tracks is to block them on all of your social media accounts,’ says Trevor. 

Unusual Patterns In Social Media Interactions

Once a stalker has gleaned enough information about you online, they may know who your close friends and companions are. If you begin to notice that an unknown person is friend-requesting your friends and family members and interacting with them on social media channels as well, then they may be trying to get more information about you from other sources. ‘This can become a threat to your safety if the stalker eventually learns important information about you like your place of work or your home address,’ says Trevor, ‘my best advice is to trust your gut and if you feel like someone is digitally stalking you, then get the police involved.’ 

A vast majority of people are stalked by people they already know. From acquaintances to former partners, stalkers can be anyone. ‘If you have a problematic ex-partner who you still have friended on social media who you notice has become much more active, keep your eyes open for real-life sightings,’ says Trevor. ‘Take screenshots of problematic online interactions so that you can report the stalking to the authorities with proof.’  

Receiving Inappropriate Gifts

Extreme online stalkers will find a way to get your personal info so that they can either send you things at your place of work, to your work or personal email, or even to your home mailbox. If the stalker has the goal of making you feel scared, they may take photos of you and send them to you through online messaging to make you aware that they are watching you. 

Trevor says, ‘Other inappropriate gifts include items that have deep emotional meaning to you that only someone who knows you really well would know to give, as well as items that are related to things you have shown interest in on social media.’ Any kind of surprise gift from a stranger is weird, especially if the gift is far too personal for it to be a coincidence. 

Suspicious Knowledge Of Your Personal Info 

If you start interacting with someone online and they say things about you that seem suspiciously accurate, they may be stalking you online. It is normal to casually browse a person’s Instagram or other social media accounts when you first meet them and to joke about ‘stalking’ them with your friends, but real stalkers take it to a whole new level. 

‘Think about the popular Netflix show ‘YOU’,’ says Trevor. ‘The main character, Joe, is really good at using a fake account on social media to stalk women and find out exactly what they like. He then uses that information to woo them, but sometimes he slips up and sends a message about something that he wouldn’t have known unless he was stalking the other person. Although this is a TV show and is unrealistic in many ways, that specific kind of slip-up is something to look out for if you meet someone new online.’

Tips To Avoid Online Stalkers

  • Share as little personal information online as possible
  • Make your accounts private
  • Do not accept friend requests from people you do not know
  • Block suspicious users as soon as they start messaging you problematic things or interacting too much with your social media content

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