Archive for the ‘Internet Safety’ Category

At its mildest, a stalker is simply a troll that has attached itself to an individual. At worst, boring, at best, flattering. Find out about trolls. But a stalker can be a serious predator, using the Internet to pursue a real or imagined vendetta, or other perverted agenda. Risk assessment is an essential first step.

How dangerous is it?
Start by thinking about who it is; is it someone you have simply upset on the Internet, someone with whom you’ve had a relationship? Is it someone you knew before, or have met in the real world?

Think about where you see it – newsgroups? forums? chat rooms? email?

What does it say? Is it a matter of direct insults? Is it lies and rumors? Does it reveal information not generally known that you want kept secret?

When – and how often – does it appear?

How is it threatening? Is it simply annoying, or do you fear direct contact, betrayal or what? Think about the worst it can do … how bad is that?

Why are you being stalked – is it simply spite and boredom, is it envy or resentment? Have you done anything that you think may have set it off?

Once you can answer these questions, you will have a clearer idea of what you are dealing with, and how quickly you may need to act.

What To Do – General Advice
In virtually every case, the first line of defence is to do nothing; simply treat it as a troll and ignore it – most will go away fairly quickly. remember, these creatures are a form of troll; if they fail to get rapid feedback, their inclination is to move on- they usually have neither the stamina nor the intelligence for a difficult situation.
But – however mild this stalker appears – always save every message you receive. A good way to do this is to create a new folder in your mailbox, and move all mails or copy newsgroup postings to that folder. I’d advise keeping this folder for at least a year after the last post, possibly longer. This can be a useful store of evidence, if later required, and can help in identifying the stalker.
Consider your options. Retaliation will make you feel better, but can be risky; as it make inspire, provoke or enable the stalker to strike further. For example, using the stalker’s guestbook to warn them is risky if you have a guestbook that is open to attack. But if it is reasonably safe, then attack – let the stalker know that you are not afraid of electrons!
By definition, a stalker is a coward, like all bullies, like all who attack from behind, or in the dark. Be sure to mention this in every attack.
Stalkers make it personal – You make it impersonal. Minimise any private response you make; maximise every public response.
Not invariably, but usually, stalkers are none too bright; as JR would say, “The Elevator Don’t Reach the Top Floor” – few intelligent people would go down the road to stalksville. Some, of course, are severely mentally ill. If you suspect that, then do not engage the stalker in any kind of dialog – just keep careful records and make appropriate reports.
Be Reasonable – Your attacks should be in response to the stalker’s – and their first line of defense will be to accuse you of stalking – so don’t go over the top. You’ll usually be amazed how easy it is to attack a stalker, but exercise restraint. If they write in your forum, and it’s safe to respond – then write in theirs. But be honest, brief and to the point – even if you post in every thread.
Keep records of all that you do, as well as what they do – and consider writing a web diary, or opening a web page to expose them. They may well have a reputation to lose – if they deserve to lose it, help them to lose it (example – The Zeppo).
Share The Laughter – However unnerving a stalker may be, if you look at them coldly in the light of day, they are pretty ridiculous. Some are Nothing But Ridiculous (example – Spiro). Savour that; turn it around, let them – and the world – see how ridiculous they are. Every time you mock them, you gain, and they lose. Share The Laughter.
Be consistent – once you have identified their weaknesses (besides being a loopy, cowardly piece of slime!), use the information against them, in every response.

Official Warning
The information is offered in good faith to people who have had, or are having, problems with an Internet stalker. But much of the information is untested, based on personal experience, theory and best guess – it is not guaranteed to help, and may not be appropriate to your own situation. The intention is to help you think about the issues, and then you must decide how – if at all – you can use the advice given here. Whatever choices you make, we wish you Good Luck.
Never give out your real name
Purposefully most chat and message systems encourage you to use a user name, not your real name. This is to protect you. If you want to use a name, use your first name, never your family name. If anyone asks you your real name, do not give it to him or her; think about why they want your name. Is it relevant? Why do they want it?

Never give out your address or town
It is much better to say you live in East Midlands, than say you live in Nottingham, or even better – specify your location as the country you live in. Again ask yourself why someone would want your address. If they ask you, stop, and ask the questions: am I comfortable about a stranger knowing my address? Why do they want to know it?

Never give out your phone number
Again – why would anyone want it? Your phone number is like an address. The dialling code specifies your district to quite a small area. Mobile phones however are not regional specific, and present a lesser risk. However if anyone asks you your phone number, do not give it to him or her. Again ask yourself the question: why are they asking me for it? If someone gives you his or her phone number do not dial it. If you really decide that is what you want to do, withhold your number form them.