Cyberstalking and Facebook
Victorian police have successfully served an intervention order on Facebook. In August, a woman had told police on August 23 that she was being threatened, bullied and harassed via Facebook. The accused is her ex boyfriend. The Herald Sun reports (the only media outlet to do this The Age's updated report now also sets the context) that there had been a history of domestic violence in their relationship. After trying to find the accused man in traditional ways, the police sent an Intervention Order to his Facebook account and recorded a video issuing the order.
Facebook ok for Intervention Orders but 'process complex'
Leading Senior Constable Stuart Walton, of Flemington police, came up with the idea and convinced a magistrate to let him serve the order on Facebook when he could not find the man via telephone or in person. The process was not perfect, with police unable to determine if the man had received the message and Facebook unwilling to confirm it so he still needed to be found in person. Leading Sen Constable Walton said he believed the use of social networking for policing would increase. "It does raise the scope and open options for other forms of policing and other uses for intelligence and contacting people," he said.
The Intervention Order means that the accused man had to remove his Facebook account and can no longerbully, threaten and harass her.
If someone keeps contacting you on Facebook or any kind of online site and it’s making you scared and upset, it sounds like you’re being stalked. Stalking is illegal. The person could get dangerous. Stalking includes following someone around or leaving messages on their phone or online, and deliberately trying to make them feel scared. You should contact the police and get their advice. Save any messages or emails to show the police if necessary.
A stalker is often possessive of their girlfriend/boyfriend or ex, and thinks,
You’re mine – you do as I say and don’t you dare leave me!
They don’t care about their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s right to freedom, privacy and independence. They often want to have power over their BF/GF or ex or want to punish them for breaking up. They might like the power of making their partner feel like they’re being watched.
Am I being stalked?
You might only realise you’re being stalked if weird things keep happening, like:
- lots of phone calls, emails or texts from the same number or address
- lots of messages on your Facebook from the same person
- notes or other things left on your car or at your house
- realising that you’re being followed
- being continually stared at by another person.
Stalking can also involve threats or sexual comments. The stalker often tries make the person they’re stalking feel intimidated and scared. Stalking a girlfriend, boyfriend or ex, or someone else, is against the law in Victoria. Stalking someone online is also against the law. Report it to the police.
How are you feeling?
If you’re being stalked, it can make you feel nervous or overwhelmed, like you’re losing control over your life. You might feel forced into changing your life, where you go and what you do. Its’ a good idea to talk to a friend, adult and/or a counsellor. You don’t have to go through this alone. There are services that can help you. [This information from DVRCV's online guide to dating, love and relationships Love: the good, the bad and the ugly]
- Services that can help
- Checking up? Constant calls or texts
- Herald Sun 20 October 2010: Police use social networking site
- Victoria Police video of serving the Intervention Order via Facebook
Photo from Flickr by btindrelunas