Each one of us has a different reason to seek love and companionship online- what we do not have in mind is for the ordeal to turn into harassment. Stalking on DMs has become so common that women often think of it as a small price to pay to have an online presence. Women often receive unsolicited pictures, unwanted messages and morphed pictures from men every now and then. While we shouldn't take the crimeless seriously, when should the red flags go up?
The problem is that men and women do not have a dating guide to abide to. We do not know what is okay and what isn't. Thus many times we end up feeling creeped out by a guy for simply sending us a DM request without any common friends or other links in between. Who is he and how did he find his way to me?
But here's the deal, not every guy that turns up with a message request or sends you a follower request might be a stalker. Yes, you should never let your guard down but does help to have a clear idea of when you need to roll up your sleeves and deal with a creep and when you should simply ignore a man who is trying to slide into your DMs.
Here’s what does not count as stalking in DMs
Surfing through the profile
There’s really no harm in going through someone’s profile as long as it’s limited to ONLY surfing. Internet is a place where people can connect with anyone and everyone. One can simply surf through a profile to check on someone without meaning any harm to them.
When you ask someone to stop communicating with you or when you’re uninterested in making a connection with them and they respect that without bothering then you can stop worrying about them being a stalker. It simply means they were trying to connect with you and also respect your refusal. However, if the person persists on chatting with you or approaches you on a different platform, or from a different identity, despite being told to back off, then the person needs to be reported for their behaviour.
Here’s what amounts to cyberstalking:
Using one’s personal information without consent
Using someone’s personal information without their consent amounts to invading their privacy and can be deemed as harassment. Personal information like address, e-mail ID, contact number, pictures can be used to violate one’s personal space and you should stay vigilant about what information about you is out there and how much or how little it is protected.
Stalkers often use profiles and contact details of other people in a woman's circle to get closer to her. Which is why someone faking to be a distant relative or friend of a friend should be taken seriously.
Morphing someone’s pictures and using them
Morphing someone’s pictures and sharing them with others with the purpose of demeaning or attacking them is also a type of cyber-crime. If the nature of the image is sexual, it can also be termed as sexual harassment.
Sending unwanted messages, pictures, etc.
Sending unwanted messages, e-mails, SMS, threats, videos or pictures amounts to cyberstalking. There have been many cases of cyberbullying where women received inappropriate pictures from random men in their DMs. Sending inappropriate pictures or videos can also be considered as sexual harassment.
According to data, there was an 11.8 percent surge in offences related to cybercrime in 2020. The number could be much higher as women often hesitate to report such incidences.
What to do if you are cyberstalked?
It is very important to take immediate action when a person gets cyberstalked. The foremost thing a user can do is report the stalker to the social media platforms and block their user account. Their inappropriate messages can be easily reported and accordingly, action may be taken by the platform if they find it violating their security and privacy guidelines.
If the stalking is persistent, users can file a police complaint to seek redressal or investigation into the misconduct. The helpline number for National Crime Reporting Portal is 155260. You can also approach various investigating agencies via social media platforms.
Various social media platforms also provide privacy and security settings for users to ensure that their data and personal information is not accessed by everyone. There are options to keep users account private which limits access to one's account by allowing only those people whose friend request the user has accepted to access their personal profiles.