Tech

Five Signs You're Being Stalked On Facebook

These are the red flags to be aware of when it comes to Facebook stalking.

SDI Productions/E+/Getty Images
Updated: 
Originally Published: 

For people born over the last three decades, Facebook has become a pretty common part of everyday life. It can be easy to forget just how much information there is about you on the platform and what kind of consequences that may lead to. Although the term “Facebook stalking” has become a catch-all term for too much scrolling on a person’s account, it’s important to be aware that stalking is no joke and your cyber security is key. With this in mind, below are seven key signs that may off guidance on how to know if someone is stalking you on Facebook in the more serious sense.

Protection Against Stalking describes stalking as “[a] pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or engenders alarm and distress in the victim.” Research conducted at Harvard found that women are more likely to be victims of cyberstalking. They’re twice as likely as men to be victims of stalking by strangers and eight times as likely to be victims of stalking by “intimates” – in other words, people they are close to.

The Cyber Helpline is a leading charity that advocates for victims of harassment. They explain, “Cyberstalking is exactly the same [as the definition above], but includes the use of online tools and technologies to either enable the stalking or complete the stalking end to end.” This can mean gathering statuses, pictures, and information about you.

Rory Innes from the Cyber Helpline UK explains that “the best thing you can do if you think you’re being cyberstalked is contact an expert of a charity.”

He adds: “Stalking is extremely serious. Make sure you’re safe and then you really want to gather as much evidence as you can. Screenshot messages and make sure that information is in a safe place.”

Below are five red flags to be aware of when it comes to Facebook stalking.

1

Friend Requests

Getting a friend request from somebody you don't know isn’t all that uncommon. It might be a friend of a friend or someone you met a long time ago? However, getting a friend request is a clear first sign that someone is trying to see more about you and is something to be cautious about. It sounds obvious, but it's probably best to avoid accepting people you don't know. And even if someone adds you and they’re a very loose acquaintance, it may be wise to think twice about accepting.

If you have a friend request you didn't accept or maybe even someone you blocked, there's a reason you did it. Don’t second guess yourself just because someone is being persistent. The average person can take a hint and know when they're not wanted.

When someone reappears with a new profile with the intention of connecting despite previously being rejected, it's a definite warning sign that they're paying too much attention to your Facebook. While Facebook says that it’s against the Facebook Community Standards to maintain more than one personal account it doesn’t mean it isn’t possible.

Dr Alexandra Katehakis explained on Psychology Today that one of the best ways to protect yourself from cyberstalking is “only accept friend requests from people who you’ve met in person.”

If you’re suspicious that you’re being Facebook stalked but you’ve accepted them, then The Cyber Helpline suggests not to engage with them.

2

Your Friends List

When you check out your own profile, the selection of friends that Facebook displays as a preview to your entire friends list is not random but actually part of an algorithm that may give you insight into who has recently visited your profile, according to a report by Vice.

As this algorithm also brings up friends who you've contacted recently, spotting a name among pals who you haven't talked to could be a sign they’re Facebook stalking you, with the app placing them there as encouragement for you to reach out.

Technology site Alphr has suggested that when you use Facebook it collects data about the profiles you view and that could play a role in how high up someone's friends list you appear.

3

Old Photos

staticnak1983/E+/Getty Images

Everyone has a story about accidentally liking an old photo they shouldn’t of. It can easily happen and, when it does, it’s embarrassing.

However, by definition stalking is repetitive and obsessive behaviour. So, if someone is liking your pictures a lot it’s a constant reminder of their presence and can be quite threatening. The CPS website says that someone constantly liking your old posts to the point where it leaves you feeling like you constantly have to be careful is an infringement on your freedom.

4

Stories

Facebook stories will give you an insight into who is looking on your profile. Just like Snapchat and Instagram stories, you can see who’s looked at your Facebook story. So, if someone’s name comes up time and time again, and you already have your suspicions, it may confirm a few things for you.

5

Hacking Into Your Account

A definite breach of privacy and sign of seriously Facebook stalking is if somebody logs into your account. If this happens, you should take action.

If somebody has tried to login to your account, you will receive an email to let you know. And though it’s not a pleasant thing to have happen, there are things you can do about it. According to Facebook’s Help Centre, users can manage all their logins in one place. To check where and when your account has been logged into you need to go to your security and login settings. If somewhere looks unfamiliar to you or you want to keep your Facebook on one device you simply click the three vertical dots that will bring up a menu and then press log off.

Robyn Roberts, general manager of a private security firm that works with The Salvation Army told ABC that if you’re trying to secure your Facebook account because you think someone you know is trying to get into it, “set up an alternative email account. Change your passwords on devices and for accountst hat you regularly use, like social media, PayPal, MyGov and Google. Your password should consist of more than eight characters and include random characters, numbers and letters.” She also suggests changing your privacy settings on social media and considering how much people can see without being friends with you.

Rory Innes from the Cyber Helpline UK tells me that if you’ve become sure that a cyberstalker has gained access to your accounts then reach out to the police and organisations like Victim Support. They can best advise you on how to act. Also ensure your friends and family know you’ve lost access to your account in case they’re contacted.

This article was originally published on