Are you being stalked? Your thoughts on social media’s role

Image copyright HW / Backgrid Image caption The increased public scrutiny of sex abuse on the internet has led to a rise in the use of social media as an anonymous route to address such concerns

Has someone been tracking you? While you’re out shopping, going out for coffee, chatting on your phone or sleeping?

For many of us, it is a relatively common worry.

Dr Harry Evans, senior lecturer in the department of psychology at Cardiff University, told the BBC an average of one person in 100 experiences unwanted attention or harassment.

Some of the most commonly cited causes for fear are strangers following you around, telemarketers calling, or agents of the government inquiring into your background.

Are you paranoid?

So how do you know if you are being stalked or if you just fear you’re being followed?

It’s not always obvious – a therapist who works with people who experience this type of behaviour told the BBC not to be complacent about your own defences and to always let your partner know you’re worried.

You might think you’re alone because you are constantly followed – think again. In a survey in 2004, 89% of online respondents said they had been followed online.

While the appeal of finding a friend online may be appealing, the insecurity is ‘bookended’ by what some call the Circle of Us – friends who all ‘check in’ with each other in real life, then go online to ask when the others are online.

Being stalked can also be compounded by a heightened sense of insecurity because most of us now face an increasing level of scrutiny online.

*Identifying details have been taken from the paper and the BBC was not involved in its production.

This article is adapted from a shorter story for the Inside our Lives series

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