If you’re on social media, chances are you’ve done a bit of creeping.
These activities can seem fun and harmless at best, but at worst, they can do serious damage.
"Cyber security is a huge concern. Not only can creeping turn to stalking, but it can turn to full-on identity theft or cybercrime,” says Sarah Brown, a security expert for Safewise.com.
When online behaviours cross the line into cyber stalking and harassment, it can cause real harm. It’s hard to get accurate numbers for online stalking, but it’s estimated one million women and 370,000 men are stalked online every year.
And that’s not just one or two incidents of someone taking their online attention too far — the average case of cyber stalking lasts for two years, longer if it involves someone who is or was an intimate partner.
"It’s natural to want to know what your ex is doing without you — especially if you’ve spent a long-term relationship with them before a breakup,” says relationship expert April Masini.
"One reason why I recommend a total disconnect from social media after a breakup is because you can find yourself, without intending to, becoming a derivative stalker."
Cyberstalking is also against the law: it is illegal under Canada’s Criminal Code. In addition to the emotional and mental harm that stalking can cause for victims, it can also result in serious legal consequences for perpetrators.
Here are some signs to help you figure out when online behaviour, by you or someone you know, has moved into the territory of harassment.