Cyberstalking is a rather loosely-defined crime in that it can encompass a whole host of different activities that are carried out online. As much as the internet has changed our lives and our communication over the past few decades, it has also changed criminal activity. It is important to know how this works.
Generally speaking, cyberstalking is just the act of harassing or stalking someone -- or, in some cases, an entire group -- using "electronic means." Often, this means going on the internet, but not always. For instance, text messages could also constitute cyberstalking. The same is true for messages on social media or emails. If it takes place on an electronic device, it may qualify.
Examples of things that could count as cyberstalking include:
- Making direct threats to a person.
- Tracking their movements and letting them know about it.
- Making false accusations online.
- Defaming a person.
- Spreading rumors and making unsubstantiated claims.
- Slandering a person or committing libel.
- Insulting a person relentlessly.
- Stealing someone's online identity.
- Committing virtual vandalism.
- Finding new ways to harass the person when they try to put an end to it. For instance, if you are messaging someone on Facebook and they block you, you may then start texting them or looking for other social media profiles.
Many times, people do not realize that the actions they take online could have serious ramifications. They do not know that cyberstalking is illegal or that the authorities take online harassment that seriously. If you wind up facing charges for some of these internet crimes, make sure you understand your legal defense options.