500 followers & 3 stalkers

When we meet a new person we automatically go home to “stalk” them on social media in order to get a better idea of who they are and who they hang out with. The normal things to look at are where they went to school, what sports they played, and if you have mutual friends. However, if you wanted to learn more you easily could. You could find their current location, how old they are, and where they like to go to eat. With new location options on Instagram posts and snapchat filters, it becomes easier to find out where everyone is at given moment. We can learn people’s habits and tendencies, which could be used as a talking point for future conversation or for someone else it can be used as a way to track them and stalk them for real.

What constitutes as cyberstalking according to Privacy Rights :

  • Sending manipulative, threatening, lewd or harassing emails
  • Hacking into someone’s online accounts and changing the victim’s settings and passwords.
  • Creating false online accounts, impersonating the victim or attempting to establish contact with the victim by using a false persona.
  • Monitoring someone’s life based on their social media accounts

We take social media stalking as a joke and just a way to find common interests, but it is easy for someone we don’t want to know a lot of personal information. Everyone remembers their parents telling them to not accept anyone on Facebook who they didn’t know just in case, but now there are so many other ways to gather information. They can go through your friends and find you or see what you have been tagged in and search other accounts. Our security on social media has become less of a priority now because it is more common to share more information to make your account better.

In a survey done by Data & Society about ONLINE HARASSMENT, DIGITAL ABUSE, AND CYBERSTALKING IN AMERICA they found that 30% of Americans have had some sort of degree of cyberstalking which includes: locational surveillance by an online harasser or stolen information. This number will just keep increasing due to more emphasize on sharing locations and details of where people are. The top form of cyberstalking that was researched by the Data & Society was noticed in someone monitoring online and phone activity.

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With this new trend those looking to stalk can find the moments of victims from their accounts or from friend’s accounts. There are times where people won’t even realize the danger of sharing locations and posting about every event. We saw this with the robbery of Kim Kardashian in Paris. She had been posting on Instagram about her trip to Paris and had pictures of all the expensive jewelry she packed. It was not hard to the men to find out where she was staying and target her for a $5 million robbery. She was posting on snapchat about being alone in the hotel which probably wasn’t the smartest move.

“It was really the celebrity who was targeted, with possessions that had been seen and noticed via social media, and it was these goods that the attackers targeted”

-(Johanna Primevert, chief spokeswoman for the Paris police department)

There were definitely many other circumstance surrounding this big issue, however it is pretty obvious that her immense presence and showing off on social media made her more of a target. The entire Kardashian/Jenner clan decreased their social media presence drastically.

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(She posted this photo on Instagram a few hours before her robbery)


There are many forms of online harassment that are relevant to cyber stalking because it can be stalking online only and using that to scare the victim or they can stalk someone in person based on the information they found online. This can mean finding out where they are and going to those locations and this can turn into real stalking. This topic is rarely discussed because it is part of the social media nature to let people get to know you and be as open as possible. However, I just find it funny that sometimes people hid their real personality online because they are embarrassed but then will share their real locations and personal information. Also, the prevention or combat of cyberstalking is very hard because the stalked could be in other states or on a library computer without any real identity. It is hard to find identities and collect the proper information in order to stop them from stalking someone else.

Having social media accounts comes with a lot of responsibilities which we have discussed in class, but there are many levels of risk when showing your personal life to everyone in the world.


  1. Great post! I think online stalking is scary for anyone, especially minors, so the fact that 30% of Americans have had some degree of cyberstalking is shocking. I’m so accustomed to saying yes to location services and tagging my location on Instagram and FB posts without even thinking twice about it. This post just reminds me how important it is to make sure each of my accounts are as private as they can be. I recently made my Venmo account private because while it’s sometimes fun to see who’s spending what and paying who, it could also be a channel for someone to learn where you spend your money and if you have money to steal. I’m curious to know what counts as monitoring someone’s life on social media–can it be as simple as constantly looking at a stranger’s photos each day? I think this is such an important topic that relates back to cyberbullying, location services, and the law that have been brought up this semester.

  2. CarbNatalie · ·

    Great post! It sometimes is scary to think how available we make ourselves to strangers as an everyday norm. I always was monitored growing up in the sense that my parents didn’t let me have a facebook until very late in the game and I am somewhat appreciative of that because it allowed me to be strict with what I post now when it is important for jobs, grad school, etc.

  3. erinfitzpatrick123 · ·

    Nice post. This was something that I looked into pretty heavily to for my presentation. One of the things that I found regarding Kim / many other celebrities is that the stalking of celebrities has increased a ton, while politicians has decreased. Some psychologists said that this is because people feel close to the celebrities based on what they share on social media, and their private info is more readily available through their social posts. I thought that phenomenon was pretty scary but also just interesting as a trend in society.

  4. aecharl · ·

    Nice post. It will be interesting to see if more events happen like the Kim Kardashian robbery that was clearly facilitated by her posting her whereabouts on social media will lead to regular people to scale back on the amount of information they share on social media. It’s funny because when I first started reading your post about “stalking” someone, Facebook was really all that came to mind because it has been the classic way to track someone you recently met over the past decade…but as I kept reading I realized someone could just as easily track you on Instagram or Snapchat. I am not as savvy at using those platforms but I can see how it would be dangerous for someone who posts on all social media about where they are for potential threats!

  5. viquezj · ·

    Excellent post! It is very important to keep in mind cybersecurity every time that we post something regarding our personal life because we do not know who may have access. Once you post something online, it becomes pretty much impossible to take it down. As you very well point it out, having social media accounts comes with great responsibility and we should remember that there are boundaries to the use that we might give to such platforms. Rule of thumb – don’t do what you don’t like others doing to you. For some reason users (trolls) feel that they have the freedom to make comments that they wouldn’t make face-to-face, and they might even consider stalking as a joke, but it is not funny at all when it intervenes with a person’s private life; which might even have legal repercussions.

  6. benrmcarthur · ·

    Great post! I think I even saw a facebook post in my feed today that involved the release of the footage from the robbers in the Kim Kardashian case. I think the public is very naive to how easy it is to find out such sensitive information from social media. I definitely don’t accept requests from strangers on facebook, but I feel like my rules change for different platforms that suggest the “follower” relationship rather than the whole friendship connection. While the network effect makes our experiences better, I still think media that is kept personal with close friends and family is best.

  7. This relates back to multiple class discussions we’ve had on online shaming and cyber bullying that always end up going too far. While reading your post, I recalled the TED talk we watched on Twitter and protecting users by managing private information that could be used against them, in particular geodata on photos. I’ve never experienced social media stalking, but perhaps there could be a system where you get to control the extent of your shared geodata customized to each group of followers/connections, not just by high traffic accounts but by any user.

  8. zfarkas17 · ·

    Well done post. Its crazy to think that 30% have been the victim of some form of online stalking. Especially as our online and SM presence grows itll continue to only get easier. Definitely makes you think twice before accepting new friends or posting.

  9. terencenixdorf · ·

    Nice post. Similar to other comments, I’m shocked to think that 30% of people have been the victim of online stalking. A lot of people, myself included, probably think that since we’re not someone with a high profile like Kim Kardashian that stuff like this can’t happen to us. When I was in middle school one of my neighbors got robbed because they posted on MySpace that they were going on vacation with their family for five days. My mom sat me and all of my siblings down the next day and told us to never share anything like that on MySpace ever. I highly doubt that she ever anticipated something like check-ins or Snapchat geofilters becoming so prominent in our lives. While I’m pretty good at keeping a lot of my stuff private on Facebook, there are definitely ways for people to get around those locks to find out as much information as they want about you. When you think about it, a simple Google search could bring up your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, just to name a few. Even if all of those are on private, people still have enough information to find out more about you. Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is a great post and a scary one. When I look at this I can’t help but think of my kids (future kids) and what the landscape will look like then. Companies that are leveraging our data for custom advertisements are also widely exposing millions of people to this potential danger. I find it difficult to believe that when we are parents, we are going to really understand the technological landscape for children. This makes me concerned, especially after our class was visited by the professor from BU who was also a lawyer. She said that currently a predator cannot have a Facebook or an online presence but can have a Snapchat. This type of legislative lag puts the risks even higher for the youngest generation. It our responsibility to protect the younger generation from the same reality we faced in the climate of rapid innovation.

  11. For some reason, I missed this post before class last week. It’s always hard to know where the line between good natured following up on people and creepy stalking is.

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