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Cyberstalking 101 - by Gal Shpantzer

The Internet is often the first place a stalker goes to make contact with victims. From there, the stalking can take place on or offline in many variations ranging from personally intimidating the victim to gathering unwitting mobs of online users to aid in the crime.


We started seeing the dangers posed by cyberstalking back in 1999 in California when a former security guard put one woman’s life in serious jeopardy after she rejected his romantic advances. He simply posed as the victim in postings on bulletin boards catering to discussions of sexual fantasies saying ‘she’ wanted to play rape games. He included her real phone number and street address, and complete strangers started showing up at her doorstep, wanting “to fulfill her rape fantasy.”


Stalking, which involves the repeated, unwanted conduct that causes fear in the target of the stalking behavior, has been recognized by all 50 states as a crime.  While criminal stalking behavior involves implied or threatened violence rather than actual violence, it should be taken seriously. There have been many cases of physical violence following stalking behavior, up to and including murder/suicide.  This is especially true in intimate partner stalking, during a breakup or after the end of a relationship. 


As a newest form of stalking, cyberstalking is the online variant of the more traditional physical methods of surveillance and intimidation of stalking victims, such as showing up at work and home, mailing communications via US Post and others.  Cyberstalking methods can include use of email, instant messenger, chat rooms, websites, interactive portals, and social networking sites.


Cyberstalking is unique among stalking behaviors since it allows the stalker a perceived measure of anonymity and requires no physical travel in order to interact with the victim.  It is highly efficient and can be directed at multiple victims with relative ease compared to physical stalking methods.  But just because they can’t be seen, doesn’t mean they aren’t harming their victims. Cyberstalking can paralyze the recipients by means of humiliating, intimidating and even horrifically detailed threatening anonymous communications. And it can be just as dangerous, as in the case of the woman in California when men started showing up at her door wanting to “act out” her rape fantasies.


These same issues – the ability to hide oneself and go after multiple targets across state lines, are also creating new technical and legal challenges to law enforcement, investigations and prosecutions. As a result, agencies are typically under-funded, their forensics investigators don’t fully understand where and how to find and preserve digital evidence, and they’re all pushing against jurisdictional laws in the real world that don’t apply to cyberspace.


I am sure you have heard about the Notre Dame Football Player, Manti Te'o, who claims someone played a cruel joke on him, all based on online communication.  If you are unfamiliar with who he is, basically it goes something like this...(I'm sure if you google it, you will be able to read a better version of this)...


He met a young lady online and spoke with her often on the phone and online (from what I can tell,for several months).  He was then informed that she unfortunately passed away from cancer.  This story is something that the media caught wind of and told his story.  Only problem was, several months later he received a phone call from "her."  It turns out, "she" did not exist.  He claims to be the victim of a terrible hoax gone wrong, but their are some that believe he did this for attention. 


What do you think?  In on the hoax or innocent victim?  What about cyberbullying in general...how do we protect ourselves and victims?

Comments (37)

wikiuser0361 said

at 10:21 am on Jun 11, 2013

That story about the woman in California is horrifying! I saw and episode of the closer where the same thing happened! It must be based off of this crime. I have not been a victim of cyber stalking but I have been harassed online and that even scared me. You have to be careful of what you put online. It never goes away and the wrong people have access to it. When it comes to the football player . . . hoax! I don’t believe it one bit. He’s not a victim. Like the show catfish, if you have never video chatted with the person and they refuse to meet you, chances are THEY ARE FAKE. Think about. Don’t get played.

wikiuser0330 said

at 10:54 am on Jun 11, 2013

I think that cyberstalking is a very serious issue, and there needs to be more privacy online. Obviously, I don't feel sympathy for people who are putting out personally information, because you should be smart enough to know that this happens all the time. As for talking in chatrooms, you're just an idiot. I was To Catch A Predator with Chris Hansen and they catch the disgusting men trying to lure in minors. As for cyberbullying, I think that if you're a victim, you should just block them, and if it continues, to file a police report.

wikiuser0393 said

at 1:49 pm on Jun 11, 2013

I don't know if it was a hoax or if he was an innocent victim, but either way that is kind of pathetic. No one should date someone that they have never met in person. It's okay to talk to someone over the internet or through the phone, but to commit yourself to another person like that without even meeting them makes you weird. As far as protecting yourself from cyberbullies, just be cautious on the internet. Don't get to know someone first on the internet. Don't try to meet new people behind a computer screen. The best way to stay safe is to use communication over the internet as little as possible. I'm not saying don't go online and talk to your pre-existing friends, but don't talk to someone you don't know is actually real.

wikiuser0346 said

at 4:14 pm on Jun 11, 2013

I don't know much about the Manti Te'o incident, but it seems like he can be a victim. However, I can totally see where people are coming from with the whole attention seeking aspect. Either way it seems very immature to do. If he were the victim, I don't understand why people have to mess with others in order to feel better about themselves...obviously a self esteem issue. On the other hand, if he was an attention seeker then it is clearly obvious he has some sort of attention issue. To continue, cyberbullying is very interesting. Where is the line between freedom of speech and harassment on the internet? It's a very gray area. Personally, I think one should be allowed to voice their opinion so long as it isn't used to tear someone else down. I mean if I don't like someone I should be able to say I don't like so and so and why, but to harass them afterwards is just uncalled for. There are several ways to protect oneself, the easiest is to block the cyberbully. After that, one can ignore the comments made or just report them to the website's administrators.

wikiuser0396 said

at 5:22 pm on Jun 11, 2013

I'm not sure whether Te'o was the victim or not, but he shouldn't have been talking to someone as seriously as he was with never actually meeting them. But that's how teens get themselves involved in rape cases because they are too care free with what they do over the internet. Cyber bullying is a serious problem in today's society and with more and more kids getting on the internet at a younger age, they should be a lot more cautious. In all honesty, the best way to protect yourself from this is to not start talking to random people on Facebook and other social networking sights. Talk to your friends, not strangers.

wikiuser0350 said

at 5:14 am on Jun 12, 2013

Cyber bullying isn't right to begin with because reading words hurt more than hearing them. Take it from someone who knows. The more people use social media sites, the more cyber bullying pops up as an issue and a red flag went up for me. Yes we have the freedom of speech, but to me, it's more along the lines of harassment and stalking. If people don't have anything nice to say, then don't say it at all. Keep is to yourself and when your alone then say it, but don't bring it into the public's eye because that is how rumors will spread and they will spread like wildfire. What Teo did i think was for the publicity. I think he made up the whole story just to get some attention because no one in their right mind would commit to a person merely based on words they type on a computer.

wikiuser0352 said

at 6:10 am on Jun 12, 2013

Cyber stalking is a serious issue that young people in this day and age can't fully avoid. People will always cling onto social networks these days. My advice to everybody is to not give out your address on social networking sites. Dont be freaking stupid and talk to people you havent met before. Better yet dont add random people on facebook!!!!! Te'o is an idiot for talking to some random chick and not actually meeting her. Dont make such a big deal about it if you havent even met the girl...if she claimed she died of cancer, maybe it was just her way of saying "hey! Leave me the hell alone!!" Maybe te'o was stalking here....oooh will the mystery ever get solved...

wikiuser0344 said

at 9:40 am on Jun 12, 2013

The internet is a dangerous place for anyone, but I must say that making cyber bullying illegal would go against "freedom of speech". Having the federal government to take action in this matter would result in a temporary peace over the internet, but would also result in an invasion of privacy, use of spying/monitoring, and limitations of rights on the internet. Passing a new law/bill will not solve this issue, the way for a resolution would be for people in general to have more courtesy, and respect for the privacy of others.

wikiuser0392 said

at 10:22 am on Jun 12, 2013

I don't know if the story of Manti Te'o is real or not. But I can say that he should not have become attached and emotionally involved with someone he has never met. To me that was silly on his part. It’s like the show catfish if you have never video chatted with the person and they refuse to meet you they most likely aren't real. The story of the woman in California is just scary think that there really are people in this world that do things like that I such a scary thought. A great way to protect yourself is to keep your personal information off the internet. Not adding people to your social networking that you do not know.

wikiuser0343 said

at 3:25 pm on Jun 12, 2013

I think with the Manti issue, it is majorly his fault. First off, he doesnt even need to date someone he hasn't met. I would put money that he could find a nice girl at Notre Dame, but thats not the issue. He put himself out there and made it easy to be a "victim". With cyber bullying, ive seen people get into facebook fights and what not so i dont think blocking everyone is the answer. The best advice is dont post something you dont want everyone to react to and if people are posting something about you, dont answer to it on the website.

wikiuser0326 said

at 7:10 pm on Jun 12, 2013

Cyberstalking is a serious issue. I had never heard of the Manti Te'o story and his story doesn't really seem to make sense. In some ways, he brought it upon himself. He got attached to someone he had never met in real life. But, it isn't fair to place all the blame on him. Te'o wasn't the only one involved in the "relationship," there was another party involved who was playing, what could be called, a cruel joke. On the other hand, maybe this was all something he had made up in order to get media attention. The story about the woman in California is terrible. You have to wonder what kind of person would put someone's number and address on the internet and say that the individual wants to live out fantasies that they really have no interest in.

wikiuser0403 said

at 6:46 am on Jun 13, 2013

Cyberbullying is hard to deal with because there is never any physical contact. It can almost be worse than bullying because there is constant access to the victim by the pursuer. There was a famous story a few years ago of some mom of a twelve or fourteen year old girl who bullied the neighbor girl because she wasn't nice to the mom's daughter. The mom posed as some guy who pretended to want the neighbor girl, and then left her. The girl ended up hanging herself in her closet and the mom was prosecuted for cyberbullying. It is a serious matter and the only thing people can really do to protect themselves is to be weary of personal information on the internet and to avoid things like group messages or chat rooms.

wikiuser0401 said

at 7:33 am on Jun 13, 2013

Cyberbullying is hard to deal with because its not physical, you dont actually know who it can be and it never goes away. Anyone who trys to hurt people in this way just have some issues of there owen that they dont know how to deal with. Theres not to many ways to avoid this happening to you, now a days with all the technology. My opinion is to keep your personal info of the internet and stick to yourself. Dont trust anyone you dont know or feel 100% comfortable with, because you NEVER know

wikiuser0383 said

at 8:59 am on Jun 13, 2013

I think that cyber bullying can be dangerous but happens all the time. What makes it so easy to be cyber bullied is the fact that when people are behind a screen they can easily say things that they wouldn't normally say to someone's face. As for manti teo I think he was an innocent victim but I also found the story very fishy. Manti is going to notre dame and should have been smarter about the whole situation.

wikiuser0344 said

at 10:35 am on Jun 13, 2013

Being against cyber bullying, I am also worried about personal data being easily accessible to anyone over the internet. Everything on the internet is permanent, and even if deleted the information is stored through a backup. The internet is dangerous, and social forums should be used careful and preferably with an alias, then using your real first and last names. Finally, do NOT put your phone number, zip code, street #, social, or place you currently are on the internet, as all of these are a privacy hazard and can put you at risk for identity theft.

wikiuser0365 said

at 11:31 am on Jun 13, 2013

I honestly think that it is messed up to toy with peoples emotions and crush them. people need to think before they do something terrible like saying this girl you have been talking to has just died from cancer. i feel bad for the guy. andd people are saying that he just did that for attention i think that people made that a rumour. The easiest way to protect yourself from cyberbullying or any crazy people out there, you can just not go onto social networks. But if you do make up a fake place of where you live, and never put youre telephone number on the internet people can hack and tap into a phone just as easy as the police.

wikiuser0385 said

at 12:07 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I think it's a serious issue because I have personally gotten messages and friend requests from random people on facebook and you never really know if 1) they are real or not and 2) they don't even know if you are real. There are people in the world that really do have attention issues and need attention constantly, and if they are not liked at school or do not have many friends they will turn to people who will give them that attention, even if it's wrong. It's not right, no, but sometimes it's funny. Even though the show Catfish makes me cry sometimes :'(

wikiuser0372 said

at 12:16 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I think this is a serious issue and cyberbulling is a terrible thing. I've been messaged my random people whom I know are probably fake. The internet is dangerous and people need to be careful and take precautions. I don't even accept people on facebook anymore unless I've met you in person, I don't care if you say we go to the same school, if I've never seen you in person I'm not accepting you. I also know people who put their phone numbers on their bio page and I just don't understand why they do that. That's giving access to random people who you don't even know to contact you. Cyberbulling is just as bad if not worse than being bullied in school. Words hurt, and if someone is trying to start something over a social media site I say just don't reply and block them. I think Manti was the victim in this matter because he didn't know she wasn't real and how did he find out she had cancer and passed away? Finding out something like that maked it more real. I want to know what was going in this person's head because I just do not understand how someone could toy with someones emotions like that. There are some really weird people out there.

wikiuser0321 said

at 12:53 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I think it is wrong what someone did to Manti Te'o. IT's cyberbullying and i think that no one should be a victim of it. Manti Te'o didn't know that he was being lead on by a fake person and i don't think he should feel bad about it. Personally, to prevent cyber bullying, i would never accept friend requests from people i dont personally know nor would i send requests to people I don't know. if someone was personally bullying me over social networks, i would tell them to stop, and if they didn't, i would confront them in school. It's not funny and cyber bullying is a very bad thing to do.

wikiuser0370 said

at 1:51 pm on Jun 13, 2013

If that ever happened to me I don't even know what I'd do! that's a terrible scar in the heart that I would never forget. I don't know what goes through peoples minds because that's a horrible thing to do to someone. Thinking your talking to someone yet there faking yet and pretending to die from cancer. I don't think he did this for attention, I think it's real and I believe it 100%. Cyber bullying is cruel. Especially in high school which is when it happens most. It's a serious issue and todays society and i'm happy consequences have become more harsh and serious. I hope this helps the cause and for people to think twice before hurting other peoples feelings whether its on the phone, chat, or computer.

wikiuser0334 said

at 7:49 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I believe Teo was a victim of a cruel joke. I do not believe he was do something stupid enough to possibly jeopardize his career. But cyberbullying in general is pathetic. If you are a cyberbully you deserve no respect whatsoever. People who threaten or humiliate people over social media or on any technological device are low life butt heads. I watched a movie called cyberbully and it was actually really good, but i honestly couldn't believe how mean people were to this girl. There were parts that almost made me cry from all of what she went through. It got so bad where the girl was going to pop pills to kill herself. I believe that cyberbullying is the worst and most severe form of bullying and we should be trying to stop these kinds of acts. Unfortunately it is hard to tell people to just stop going on sites like Facebook because our generation has a technology obsession.

wikiuser0333 said

at 10:06 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I believe he was a victim of a cruel joke. But even if he wasn't, and it was all for attention, at least it brought attention to an issue that is currently plaguing many people around the world. There is even that tv show, catfish, that shows the horrors of getting tricked into thinking you are talking to someone else online. So it obviously happens more than was previously thought. And as far as cyberbullying, we need to protect ourselves by being our own hero. If you think someone is bullying you online, or someone else for that matter, you need to speak up. It is so easy for people to hide behind a screen and say things they wouldn't dare to in public with other people watching so we need to bring them to the forefront and expose the problems that are hidden online. Because cyberbulling is still bullying no matter how you spin it, and the people who do it should be punished.

wikiuser0395 said

at 10:34 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I honestly don't know what to think about the whole football hoax. Mante claims he is a victim, but he used to tell news reporters that he visited this girl a few times. If you didn't know she was fake how could you have visited her? But on the other hand I can't imagine why Mante would need a fake girlfriend. So there are certain pieces that just don't quite add up. Cyber bullying has become a major issue today but there is one simple solution, turn off the computer. Bullying is everywhere as much as that stinks. If you want to avoid the risks stay out of cyber space. There will always be hackers and people that can get around any programs one might set up to prevent cyber problems. If you don't go on you will have nothing to worry about.

wikiuser0390 said

at 11:52 pm on Jun 13, 2013

I believe he was a victim of something that isn't so rare to our society anymore. The idea of making up a fake profile to then pretend to "date" yourself seems odd to me. I believe no one of a healthy mind would do that. Especially because relationships involve so many feelings that I don't think anyone in their right mind would do that to themselves. I think that everyone should protect themselves by not accepting all friend requests and being careful to the feelings and things you expose on facebook.

wikiuser0331 said

at 6:47 am on Jun 14, 2013

I'm not really sure if it was a hoax or a victim, but either was you be in a "relationship" with somone who you never saw. To me, thats just stupid and dangerous. In cyberbullying, we should take more precautions. Instead of posting up all your information on facebook, we should limit it. Instead of putting up all of these pictures, we should put less and less because no one knows who's watching. Instead of accepting the whole world on facebook, we should limit it to the people we know. Or even more simple, dont use the computer because then we wont have this problem.

wikiuser0380 said

at 10:40 am on Jun 14, 2013

Cyber bullying is wrong and incredibily easy to do. It intimidates and can destroy a person. The victim can be affected mentally, emotionally, orphysicially. The football player fell for a non existant person. Cut of communications with the stalker if possible. You can protect victims by putting them on do not call lists and witness protection program.

wikiuser0382 said

at 10:55 am on Jun 14, 2013

I'll give Te'o the benefit of the doubt (even though I do not know the full detailed story) because there is a great chance that anyone online is not who they say they are. There are plenty of examples of people who enter short flings or long relationships with each other over the internet and later find out that their significant other had never even existed; just take in account all of those NBC Dateline pedophiles who thought that they were meeting kids, only to find Chris Hansen staring at their faces. (Just kidding!)

In terms of cyberbullying in general, we need to educate the youth on the risks that they take by partaking in online networking, of any sort; from Omegle to Zoosk to Facebook, there is always the chance that the person who you meet online is just an imposter, with any possible combination of alterior motives. People should not be so gullible as to trust what is given to them at face-value and they should be more wary of the dangers that may confront them. Maybe even abandoning the entire online-relationship paradigm would be a great idea, too, since most of the human race's youth is becoming less socially "graced"--there would be no problems of cyber-anything if people simply reattach themselves to the real world; we need more real interactions and less simulated ones.

wikiuser0389 said

at 12:07 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I remember reading about the story with Manti Te'o, and it was worse than the breif mention it gets on this page. I think it's horrible that people can even think of using the anonymity of the internet. I hope someday we can figure out how to prevent this without violating our basic rights.

wikiuser0369 said

at 1:15 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I recall listening in on this topic. It's a very oppinionated discussion given that we will never really know the truth and who is correct and who is incorrect. The news has a tendency to take things like this to a new level. I believe he is innocent but who cares it's his business and not ours. However cyber bullying is an ongoing problem that has only worsened with passed time. The best bet to solve a difficult problem like this is to simply do the right thing and report it if you are witness or victim. Report it and let justice fullfil it's duty.

wikiuser0367 said

at 3:33 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I think manti te'o was a victim, but I'm biased because I'm a huge notre dame fan. As to protecting ourselves online fr cyberstalking, you have to be very careful of what you put online. You should not put anything too personal online such as your phone number or address. You also should not be friends with or message anyone you don't know.

wikiuser0391 said

at 3:41 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I heard this story when it first came out and the controversy of whether he wa a victim or in on it. I believe, based on the knowledge he told the reporters, that he was a part of the hoax. However when it comes to cyberbullying in general, I believe it is hard to protect ourselves from the people around us, especially those we don't know. This being said, I feel people need to be strong and realize that when people engage in cyberbullying that they are too scared to say things to your face. If they aren't strong enough to speak their minds aloud, the victim is already stronger . The victim must rise above all this and when they feel it coming down on them, a victim should look for help. They should talk to someone they feel comfortable with so they don't get overwhelmed.

wikiuser0371 said

at 4:16 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I think that he was an innocent victim. I think that a person just made an account on a social netwok with someone elses picture from the internet and messaged him. Even if he talked to her on the phone, there is so much technology today that can be used to disguise a persons voice to make them sound different. He was not at fault for someone else's wrongdoing. I do not think that there is much to be done about cyber bullying because no one can control everything that happens on the Internet. The only thing that I can think of is if parents put restrictions on what their kids look at.

wikiuser0376 said

at 10:35 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I think that he was the victim in this situation. I feel like it is much easier for people to lie about who they are online to hurt someone than it would be for someone that has as much publicity as he does to lie to everyone about this in order to get sympathy. I feel like it's too risky for someone with his status to make up a lie like that, and I don't see why he would do it. But you never know. It's hard to tell.
I feel like cyber bullying is very cowardly. But I also feel like it's very easy to put an end to it. The Manti Te'o case is different, but for example, people getting bullied on social networking sites can easily block the person bullying them. I know people can be very cruel, but you can't let them be when they're not even doing it in person when it would be more difficult to put an end to it. In my opinion, your self worth is more important than being on a social networking site, and if you are being bullied on one you should just delete your account. It's sad that that's the way people are, but you can't change them. However, you can change the situation.

wikiuser0345 said

at 10:55 pm on Jun 14, 2013

I don't think people should just jump to the conclusion that he is in on the hoax just because he is a celebrity. Sure, it makes one wonder how that could happen to him, but his status does not make him immune to "catfishing" and it certainly does not protect him from stalkers. I can believe that Manti Teo was an innocent victim of a hoax, although I think online dating is a big mistake no matter what the reasoning behind it is. Cyber bullying, online stalking, and catfishing are all acts that should be punishable by law because they can truly harm someone. I have heard so many stories about girls trying to commit suicide because they could not handle the vicious bombardment of insults and put-downs on their Facebook pages. I even watched on TV the story of how a man who became obssessed with a girl he had catfished, which lead him to kill the young man she was seeing after she found out about the deceit. All of it is just messed up, and we as fellow Internet users need to band together and come up with ways to stop and prevent these things from happening.

wikiuser0404 said

at 3:37 pm on Jun 15, 2013

Any type of bullying is wrong, but cyber bullying is just unnecissary, and completly uncalled for. Your wasting your time out of your day to sit on a computer obsessing over someones life or your wasting your time trying to say hurtful things to them. This can be very dangerous. But people do need to realize the internet is not for meeting people either and if youve never met them in person theres more then a 50% chance they are not who they saythey are. Yes it was not fair for this man to go through, and any person who would do something like that to him is obviosly not right in the head.

wikiuser0347 said

at 11:25 am on Jun 17, 2013

Many people have criticized and taunted Manti Teo for being a victim of a hoax. The situation is very unusual and extreme, and he has become a laughingstock around the world. However, many people have forgotten that Teo is, in fact, a victim. I cannot even try to imagine his pain and emotions during this cruel and pointless hoax. Cyberbullying is a very common act nowadays, and it may seem impossible to stop it. Honestly, the best defense is awareness. Teach children the signs to look out for and make sure that there are authority figures that will help, if necessary.
Most importantly, victims must have people to listen and open up to. People often laugh at the victims and don't take their pain seriously. Victims are looked at as fools and stupid people for falling for hoaxes and tricks. We live in an age of technology. With new advances in modern communication, there are more and more forms of anonymity. Different forms of criminal behavior are arising and innocent people are being hurt. Cyberbullying must be taken seriously and victims deserve sympathy and understanding.

Naug said

at 1:06 pm on Jun 17, 2013

Thank you.

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