Stalking has long been a crime in the physical sense, and some people have even gotten restraining orders to try to keep people from following them or harassing them. Things have changed in the digital era, however, and we have now seen the rise of something known as cyberstalking. It’s important to know what this is and how it happens so that you can avoid doing anything that would be considered cyberstalking and a violation of the law.
Generally, speaking, cyberstalking just means using technology to harass someone, to pester them, or even to discover their whereabouts. It’s important to note that this is more than someone simply being annoying. It’s not cyberstalking if you don’t like what someone comments on your social media profiles or something of this nature. Unsolicited emails also do not constitute cyberstalking, and many people get a lot of them every day.
To make it cyberstalking, it has to be “methodical, deliberate and persistent.” There also needs to be some element of direct harassment or bullying, where that person is being emotionally and verbally attacked through the messages.
It does not stop
Speaking of persistence, one thing to consider is that the recipient may contact the sender to ask them to stop their behavior. For example, a young woman in college may tell one of her ex boyfriends to stop texting her, sending her messages or commenting on all of her posts on social media.
But don’t assume that all text messages, especially those that are unwanted, are definitely cyberstalking. The person would need to be persistent and continue to send these messages regardless of the other individual’s wishes. If you block someone for their social media comments and then they create an entire fake account specifically so they can still contact you, that could turn innocent contact into stalking.
The type of content
The type of content that the person is sending also plays into this. They will often send things that are either inappropriate or even disturbing. These could include things like threats or explicit, sexual comments. It is much more likely to be counted as cyberstalking if these elements are present.
Those who have been accused of cyberstalking need to know exactly how the court views it and what legal defense options they have.