Fatal attraction

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
Published Jun 19, 2016, 12:55 am IST
Updated Jun 19, 2016, 12:55 am IST
Beware of cyber stalkers, who watch your every move online.
Social media stalking is no better than stalking people down dark alleys and can turn just as ugly.
 Social media stalking is no better than stalking people down dark alleys and can turn just as ugly.

Have you ever met a cute colleague at work and gone back home and looked them up on Facebook? Or gone through all the Instagram pictures of that girl you saw at the college fest? Most people have done this at some point or other in their lives but if you are still checking out their social media profile everyday after a month or more, then, you are bordering on being a social media stalker.

Social media stalking is no better than stalking people down dark alleys and can turn just as ugly. With people posting pictures of every minute of their lives, check-ins and tweets, life has become one big reality show with the whole world watching. But indulging in that voyeurism can quickly turn into a Hitchcock movie ish scenario.

 

20-year-old Preeti, says what started as an innocuous friend request ended with creepy messages and morphed pictures “At first he used to just like my pictures, I would check my notifications and he would have liked 20-30 of my old pictures at a stretch. Then he started messaging me. I ignored them initially. It is only when a friend told me there was a fake profile with my morphed obscene pictures in it that I filed a complaint”.

Whereas nine, out of 10 students in a city college confessed to checking out their ex’s social media updates after a break up, this takes a dark turn when it takes the shape of obsession or revenge. Often social media stalking is motivated by unrequited obsessive love or revenge.

 

Superintendent of Police, Cyber Crime Division, CID says “Mainly the cases we get are of female victims”  He recalls a case about a couple who were going through a divorce, ‘The husband created a fake profile and put up intimate pictures of the woman.”

The repercussions of being stalked online can often have a traumatic impact on the victim. An ex-pat blogger living in the city, reveals, “He sent me an email listing in great details my activities over the past few months and exactly what he liked to do when he looked at certain pictures of me. I was horrified and felt violated. He had access to photocopies of my passport, my home address and other information which was saved in my email. Just that one experience was enough to scar me for life.”

 

So what prompts the stalker to resort to the virtual world?  “The stalker has a sense of anonymity.” explains Hamsa N, associate professor of psychology in Mount Carmel College. “They indulge in an impulse satisfying behavior. As the victim is posting details of their life, the stalker thinks the victim doesn’t mind if he/she takes it a step further.”  

— Sayantika Majumder

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