In one year, over six million people are stalked in the United States. This amounts to one in every six women and one in every 19 men, according to The National Center for Victims of Crime. Why is this number so high?
It has tripled in the last decade because of the rise of social media and the percent of the population that uses it.
Social Media Stalking
Most people don’t realize that there is a real threat associated with social media: social media stalking. Of course, what you do and do not post on social media is at your discretion, but once it’s out there, anyone can find it. The opportunity exists to see what Kim Kardashian had for breakfast, where Justin Bieber goes to hang out, and what your friends are doing on a daily basis. For most, checking in on friends and celebrities is purely for enjoyment. For others, the social media stalking obsession is unhealthy and can lead to violence.
Stalking is a crime in all 50 states. In the past few years, more emphasis has been put on preventing stalking. Separate crime and detective units have been formed in cities to study stalking cases. Charlotte even has a Cyber Crimes Unit. A new show premiering on CBS this fall, Stalker, showcases one of these units. Whether this will increase or decrease social media stalking is unknown. Some stalkers may not be aware of how easy it can be to find information on the Internet. If they watch the show, they may find out.
What do these stalking laws mean for those simply interested (or really, really interested) in a celebrity? In order to be classified as social media stalking, the stalking behavior must cause unreasonable fear. So, for those who check on Taylor Swift’s social profiles every day, Like every picture and comment on every post, just keep violence out of it.
If you have your own social profiles, remember to pay attention to what you’re posting. Don’t share sensitive information or give away your address. Most stalking incidents happen by someone the victim knows. Check on a platform’s privacy settings, and be mindful of who you are connected with on social media.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t use social media. Users should continue to connect with the brands, businesses and people they are interested in. Continue to post pictures and like updates. If you feel concerned that you may be a victim of social media stalking, let your local authorities know. If not, Tweet away.