Cyberstalking is generally defined as “the repeated pursuit of an individual using electronic or connected devices”. Cyberstalking is usually not just one single act, it is almost always a deliberate course of conduct. In other words, it is a series of acts over a period of time, however short, that demonstrates a continuity of purpose.
Cyberstalking is often characterized by repeated and unrelenting, threatening, coercive, or intimidating online interactions or communications. Its purpose is usually to create a sense of fear, terror, intimidation, stress or anxiety in, and to exert control over, the victim. Because of the repetitive nature of cyberstalking, and because the stalker can access the victim at any time and from any distance, the victim will often lose a sense of control over his/her own life, never knowing when the stalker may appear or contact the victim again. This can seriously undermine the victim’s sense of security. Although there are many similarities between traditional stalking and cyberstalking, particularly with regard to intent, the two differ in a number of important ways. .
|Efficiency||A cyberstalker can strike at the touch of a button, at little or no cost, whether sending a threatening message to the victim, or disseminating a defamatory message to a global audience.|
|Proximity||A cyberstalker does not need to be physically near to their victim. With the internet they can target their victim from anywhere in the world. This can leave victims in an almost constant state of dread, not knowing where their stalker is.|
|Anonymity||A cyberstalker is able to remain relatively anonymous online, can open social media and email accounts with bogus information, and can use technologies like VPN’s, proxies and TOR to further protect their true identity.|
|Impersonation||A cyberstalker can impersonate the victim, the victims family and friends, or anyone else for that matter, and for any purpose. This can undermine the victim’s trust in the people close to them.|
|Automation||A cyberstalker can automate tasks such as posting information to social media sites, blogs and forums or sending emails and instant messages. In addition, these can be distributed to a wide, almost global, audience at the press of a button. Perhaps more concerning is the fact that a cyberstalker could incite or encourage others to harass or target the victim on their behalf.|
|Mobilization||A cyberstalker could incite or encourage others to harass or target the victim, whether by spreading falsities or by pretending to be the victim and engaging in activities that cause an outcry. This could lead to a backlash, new threats and further harassment – potentially on a global scale.|