Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet and other forms of online and computer technologies to stalk, harass, or threaten a person, group or organization. The action of cyberstalking can include, but is not limited to, threatening behavior, unwanted advances, monitoring, identity theft, soliciting sex to minors and the gathering of personal information with consent. In all cases, the victim(s) can be aware or not aware that such activities are even occurring. Cyberstalking can also be accompanied by or lead to in-person stalking and even cause death to the victim(s) involved.
2 Who is involved
3 Ethical implications
4 Cyberstalking and the law
5 Examples of cyberstalking cases
5.1 Amy Boyer
5.2 Joelle Ligon
5.3 Jayne Hitchcock
6 Preventing cyberstalking
7 See Also
8 External links
Facebook and other social networking sites can be used to cyberstalk.
As a relatively new trend due to the rise of technology used within our society, cyberstalking can be done by anyone that can use a computer and log onto the Internet. Cyberstalking includes sending unwanted, threatening, or obscene email, posting obscene or threatening messages in discussions or forums, using the internet to gather private information, tracking somebody’s Internet activity, and more. Cyberstalkers may or may not know their victims. Cyberstalking can is harmful to victims and can potentially cause them death and other related injuries.
If they do not know their victim, then they can find their targets through social media, chatrooms, discussion threads and many other methods online. Some people believe that more and more people are getting involved in cyberstalking due to the ease of anonymity. Some of these people would not have engaged in offline stalking for fear of being caught.
Who is involved
Cyberstalkers can be anybody. They may know their victim or they could be completely random. Leroy McFarlane and Paul Bocij  recognize five types of cyberstalkers:
The Rejected Stalker had an relationship with the victim at some point, either romantically or as a friend or family member. They are motivated by seeking both revenge and reconciliation.
The Intimacy Seeker tries to achieve a relationship with the victim who has peaked their interest and whom they might have mistakenly believed to think returns that interest.
The Incompetent Suitor wants to develop a relationship but cannot seem to do so within the normal social rules of courtship. They are often intellectually and/or socially incompetent.
The Resentful Stalker wants to payback their victim for some supposed injury or humiliation they have caused.
The Predatory Stalker gathers information for the purposes of preparing for an attack.
Anybody can be a victim of cyberstalking. In fact, in a study about cyberstalking victims, over 82% of the respondents had experienced cyberstalking in one form or another . Common types of victims include but are not limited to women, children and teenagers, or past/present intimate partners.
There is much debate on whether cyberstalking is considered unique to in-person stalking, or if it is just under the umbrella term of stalking regardless of what in what context the stalking was taking place—online or offline. This debate falls under a large theme of whether computer ethics are considered unique or not. In the case of cyberstalking, traditionalists would argue that stalking is stalking no matter if it was done online or offline, while philosophers would argue that there are some aspects of cyberstalking that are unique, such as the new scope at which stalking can now be carried out online and the ease at which personal information can now be found online .
Is there a difference?
The ease with which “stalking” has been incorporated as an acceptable activity for users on various social media sites (specifically Facebook) is an alarming fact that raises the question whether ethical norms have been changed in the online environment.
For more information see, Uniqueness of Computer Ethics and Uniqueness Debate.
Cyberstalking and the law
The US Federal Anti-Cyberstalking laws include 47 USC 223, 18 USC 2261A and the Violence Against Women Act, pertain to any cyberstalking cases crossing state lines. Otherwise, state cyberstalking laws are considered.
However, not every state has a specific cyberstalking law. The National Conference of State Legislatures keeps a complete list on which states have cyberstalking, cyberharassment, and or cyberbullying laws .
Examples of cyberstalking cases
Main articles: The Amy Boyer Case.
Amy Boyer, 21, was murdered in October 1999 by Liam Youens who had stalked her online. Youens used the Internet to find information out about Boyer, such as where she lived, where she worked, what type of car she drove, and other such personal, confidential information. He even went so far to obtain her Social Security number through an agent. Youens also created two websites concerning her: one site detailed Boyer’s personal information and the other detailed his plans to murder her .
Joelle Ligon was cyberstalked for six years by James Murphy, and ex-boyfriend. Murphy sent Ligo emails from an alias email accounts that started out as unwanted and later turned pornographic. Murphy also posted Ligon’s phone number in discussion threads and chatrooms that led to Ligon getting phone calls from men asking for sex. During the time cyberstalking was not yet outlawed in Washington State, where Ligon lived and worked, so the police said there was nothing they could do. Ligon then sought help from the FBI. After a long process, Murphy plead guilty to two counts of Internet harassment .
The Jayne Hitchcock incident is a case of corporate cyberstalking in which Hitchcock, a writer, claimed to be cyberstalked by a manager at Woodside Literary Agency for a number of years.  Jayne Hitchcock later went on to become the president of an organization to halt cyberstalking. 
There are many different ways to prevent cyberstalking from occurring: 
Do not share private information, such as your name, birthdate, address, or social security number, in a public online space or with someone you do not know.
Be very careful when interacting with others online whom you have not met before. While your interactions may seem safe, you may be talking to someone who is misrepresenting themselves.
Do not put your credit card information or any other form of online payment into an unsecured system. While the site may look legitimate, it may in reality be a farce.
Change your passwords semi-regularly so as to keep your accounts as secure as possible. When creating your passwords, do not use your birthdate, dog’s name, or any other piece of information that is relatively easy to find.
If you believe you are being cyberstalked, do not hesitate to contact the authorities. Save all conversations, transactions, and engagements with your stalker as they will be important for finding the stalker.
The Amy Boyer Case
Cyberstalking – Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
The National Center for Victims of Crime – Cyberstalking
U.S. Code – 47 USC Sec. 223
U.S. Code – 18 USC Sec. 2261A
Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005
McFarlane, L. An exploration of predatory behaviour in cyberspace: towards a typology of cyberstalkers. First Monday 8.9 01 Sep 2003: unknown-unknown. University of Illinois, Chicago, in cooperation with the University Library.
Bocji, P. Victims of cyberstalking: an exploratory study of harassment perpetrated via the Internet. First Monday 8.10 01 Oct 2003: unknown-unknown. University of Illinois, Chicago, in cooperation with the University Library.
Tavani, Herman T. The uniqueness debate in computer ethics: What exactly is at issue, and why does it matter?. Ethics and information technology 4.1 01 Mar 2002: 37-54. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
“Cyberstalking, Cyberharassment and Cyberbullying Laws.” NCSL Home. 26 Jan. 2011. Web. <http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=13495>.
Ho, Vanessa. “Cyberstalker Enters Guilty Plea.” Seattle Post. 29 July 2004. Web. <http://www.seattlepi.com/local/article/Cyberstalker-enters-guilty-plea-1150519.php>.
Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking: harassment in the Internet age and how to protect your family. Greenwood Publishing Group, 2004, p. 138.
Working to Halt Online Abuse
(back to index)
ConceptsInformation EthicsVirtual Environments, Concerns, & Issues
What links here
This page was last modified on 12 December 2012, at 02:00.
Powered by MediaWiki