Ready for some pretty creepy statistics? 53% of online harassment is committed by someone with prior relationship with the abused. 70% of reported incidents of stalking in the UK had an online component.
Here?s the bad news: If someone is really determined to find you, it?s not difficult for them to track you down. And to make matters worse, Facebook hasn?t made it easy for its users to protect themselves.
The good news? We can tell you how to change this to protect yourself and keep your Facebook private.
There are many ways someone can track you down and the chances and ease of this happening will depend heavily on your personal circumstances and that of your abuser/stalker. Keep reading to find out 4 ways someone can track you on Facebook, how easy it is, and most importantly, what you can do about it.
How They Can Find YouYou would be surprised how much of your profile is public. Most Facebook users aren?t completely aware of how to use the site?s privacy settings, which means that we post a lot of stuff to our social media accounts that we think is private but in reality is open for the world to see.
The best way to find out how much of your profile a random user can see is by using the ?View As? Function that appears when you click on the ??? on the right corner of your Facebook cover photo. Try a mixture of options to see how people you know, don?t know, are from your city, from your university/school or friends of your friends can see about you. You can also create a new profile and then try to access your Facebook profile and check how much information you can see as a random account.
What You Can Do About ItYou should check how many of your profile photos, status updates and groups are public. Also, remember when you post you should set the privacy setting for each post to Friends Only rather than Public. Use the same discretion for location by turning it off and checking it every time you post. Turn off location settings in your phone! You should be able to do this through your phone settings.
2. Friends & Family
How They Can Find YouWho is in your friends list? Who is in your friends? friends list? Who is checking you in to places? It?s easy to add people over time and forget about it. You may have common contacts with your abuser and they will be able to see your timeline if you set your post setting to ?Friends?.
What You Can Do About ItUnfriending or Blocking a person are two options that Facebook offers for tackling someone who is or might bother you. Unfriending someone is easy but you might not realise how it is different from blocking someone. When you unfriend someone, it means your activities (pictures, updates, posts) that you set to the privacy setting ?Friends? will no longer be seen by that person and their activities won?t appear on your timeline. They will still be able to see your public posts on your own walls, check-ins into public locations, and public events that you are hosting or attending. Don?t be startled if they send you a friend request again because this doesn?t mean you are undiscoverable. That only happens when you block someone. Blocking someone means they can?t see your timeline, message you, tag you, and send you friend requests. You won?t see their activity either.
This is what most people miss: People who are blocked can still see your public information and any activity within apps or groups. Check the groups you?re in and double check any pages or events you manage to see if you?re giving away information about your location you don?t want others to know.
You can always report inappropriate or abusive posts to Facebook.
How They Can Find YouAre you getting messages from your partner or someone close to them on Facebook messenger? Be very careful because if location services are on your phone, your location will be transmitted. Also, never double tap a message you?ve sent on Messenger if you think it hasn?t been sent because that transmits your location to them.
What You Can Do About ItTurn off location services on your phone and if you can?t remember to do it (you need it for Google Maps etc), then don?t double tap the message you send on Messenger. And always change location on your status updates.
How They Can Find YouDo you like checking in to cafes, clubs and restaurants with your friends And more importantly, do you keep track of who tags you in check-ins? Check-ins are public if the person who checks you in or you put the privacy settings as ?Public?, then everyone will be able to see where you are. This is same for connected Check-in apps such as Foursquare/Swarm.
What You Can Do About ItYou can?t block people from tagging you in a post that includes a location, but you can stop it from showing up on your Timeline. This is useful if you still haven?t left your partner or for some reason have common contacts on Facebook. As a basic measure security check, you need to turn on Timeline review to approve all tags before they show up on your Timeline and other people?s feeds. Remove tags from any location posts and check-ins that you don?t want. You can also trick your stalker/abuser by checking into place you?re not at if you?re afraid of being found.
These are just 4 ways an abuser or stalker can use monitoring on Facebook to find and harass you. And if this shocked you, wait till Chayn launches the ?How Someone Can Track You (Online/Offline) & What You Can Do About It? guide later this year. The guide will cover more ways abusers and stalker monitor through social media, emails, hacking and more. We?re looking for feedback on what ways you think abusers can track someone. Tell us on Reddit here!
Cyber crime: A review of the evidence  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/246749/horr75-summary.pdf
Electronic Communication Harassment Observation Study http://www.beds.ac.uk/research-ref/irac/nccr/echo