Cyberstalking

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Cyberstalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk someone. This term is used interchangeably with online harassment and online abuse. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person’s home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person’s property. Most stalking laws require that the perpetrator make a credible threat of violence against the victim; others include threats against the victim’s immediate family; and still others require only that the alleged stalker’s course of conduct constitute an implied threat.

Cyberstalkers target victims using online forums, bulletin boards, chat rooms, and more recently, through online communities such as MySpace, Facebook and Indymedia, a media outlet known for self-publishing. They may engage in live chat harassment or flaming or they may send electronic viruses and unsolicited e-mails. [1] Victims of cyberstalkers may not even know that they are being stalked. Cyberstalkers may research individuals to feed obsessions and curiosities that they possess. Conversely, the acts of cyberstalkers may become more intense, such as repeatedly instant messaging their targets. [2] More commonly they will post defamatory or derogatory statements about their stalking target on web pages, message boards and in guest books designed to trigger a reaction or response from their victim, thereby initiating contact. [1] In some cases, they have been known to create fake blogs in the name of the victim containing defamatory or pornographic content.

When prosecuted, many stalkers have unsuccessfully attempted to justify their behavior based on their use of public forums, as opposed to direct contact. Once they get a reaction from the victim, they will typically attempt to track or follow the victim’s internet activity. Classic cyberstalking behavior includes the tracing of the victim’s IP address in an attempt to verify their home or place of employment. [1]

Stalking does not consist of single incidents, but is a continuous process. Similar to stalking off-line (physical stalking), cyberstalking can be a terrifying experience for victims, placing them at risk of psychological trauma, and possible physical harm. As Rokkers writes, “Stalking is a form of mental assault, in which the perpetrator repeatedly, unwantedly, and disruptively breaks into the life-world of the victim, with whom they have no relationship (or no longer have)….Moreover, the separated acts that make up the intrusion cannot by themselves cause the mental abuse, but do taken together (cumulative effect).”[3] (For a list of effects, see Stalking)

Some cyberstalking situations do evolve into physical stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault.[1] Moreover, many physical stalkers will use cyberstalking as another method of harassing their victims.[4] [5]

A recent study, led by Dr. Paige Padgett from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that there was a false degree of safety assumed by women looking for love online

Source : wikipedia

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