|Online public information risks safety|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Sunday, 29 April 2012 13:16|
Try an experiment. Go to Google, type in your first and last name, and press search. For many people, there are a variety of results of various profiles that turn up when searching for one’s name. Even adding the location could turn up an even more detailed list of your information.
That is where the debate over privacy with online information comes in. With millions of people public on the web, there is one huge threat that both men and women make themselves vulnerable to: Stalking.
Stalking is defined as unwanted and obsessive attention by an individual or group to another person. This also includes harassment and intimidation and may take the form of following the victim in person or monitoring them.
Stalkers display this behavior for a number of reasons, like when they feel like another person loves them, or that they need rescuing. They might feel that they need to avenge rejection, have a vendetta, try to establish intimacy, have a fixation, or perhaps they are predatory stalkers that plan an attack, often sexual, on the victim.
Everyone has seen movies depicting dramatic stalking situations and, even in normal life, some joke about having a stalker or “creeping” on someone through Facebook.
However, the problem is just as real as any other crime, especially for a college campus. About 13 percent of college females have been a victim of stalking and 42.5 percent of the stalkers are boyfriends or ex-boyfriends. And 24.5 percent of stalkers are classmates, 10.3 percent are acquaintances, and 9.3 percent are friends. College campuses provide a closed-in community where daily routines are easily monitored.
With the advent of the Internet and social networks, it is easier than ever to determine the location of an individual. Even high-tech equipment like monitoring software, hidden cameras, and GPS tracking units are easily available for a stalker to use on their victim.
While in more recent times the word stalker has lost its meaning, the threat is still very much there. Some people may not even realize they are exhibiting stalker behavior.
For example, an innocent peak into someone’s Facebook photos could make someone feel like they are being a “creep” or “lurker,” but that hardly stops anyone. Even if no contact is made to the person being stalked, there is a fine line between curiosity and surveillance. But for some, simple online “creeping” on an ex or crush could turn into something far more dangerous.
While receiving anonymous contact may seem innocent enough, many stalking prevention networks advise people to not respond to any gifts or threats. Any suspicious activity should be reported to local law enforcement and all evidence of the stalking should be kept for further investigation.
One of the best ways to prevent yourself from being a victim of stalking is to limit personal information available online. Even if the information is available only to friends and not the public, there could be a chance the stalker may be closer to you than you think. We encourage all students to stay aware of their surroundings, always travel in groups at night, and keep police contact information nearby in the case that concern arises over this topic.