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What is the meaning of Cyber Harassment?

Can you give me a basic Guide to Cyber Harassment?

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Cyber harassment is typically defined as recurring, unwelcome and aggressive conduct by an individual or a group of people using the Internet or mobile technology aiming to terrify, bother, intimidate, threaten, stalk or harass someone else. It can happen in social networking sites, chat rooms, message boards, email or any electronic environment where other people can communicate. Note that simply posting a personal view or opinion in a forum or a discussion board is not classified as cyber harassment.

The term cyber harassment is interchangeable with the term cyber stalking which refers to the behavior of people who persistently chase others on the web with the purpose of scaring or upsetting another individual. Harassers will try to teach the victim a lesson or force the victim to provide information and will typically want attention or revenge as part of their act. Laws against this kind of harassment differ with every country and victims are encouraged to inform the authorities if they have been harassed in any way.

In Western European countries, there are laws that are very explicit about the protection that citizens have from cyber harassers or stalkers. In the US, most states have come up with laws that provide specific protection from cyber harassment or stalking. US federal laws of this type have only been applied in 2010, but laws protecting minors and children 16 years old or younger against online sexual harassment are already enforced. In some Asian countries, however, laws against this crime have not been implemented as of 2010.

A typical cyber harasser will post statements or comments about a victim intending to cause embarrassment or distress and encourage others to do the same. The harasser may even find ways to use the victim’s personal accounts to send obscene or hurtful messages to friends, family, officemates and other people close to the victim. He can also create websites and post digitally manipulated or sexual images of the victim or submit the images to pornographic websites. The victim’s PC can also get hacked and taken over, passwords changed and the victim signed up for pornographic and spam websites.

This is why it is crucial for all internet users to ensure the privacy of their online identity. If a person feels that he or she is a victim of cyber harassment or stalking, he or she should gather harassing or stalking posts, messages, activities and all pertinent documentation to support his or her case. If the victim knows who the culprit is and knows where he or she lives or works or knows how to contact him or her, then the authorities should be informed as soon as possible. In some cases, the authorities are able to trace the harasser via an ISP provider and request for a restraining order against the culprit. Victims who are not able to file criminal charges can try a civil suit instead which will have stalker’s accounts suspended or permanently removed and malicious websites closed down.

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