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10 Forms of Online Harassment


10
Cyberstalking
Cyberstalking should always be taken seriously and reported to the police or FBI. © John Lund/Blend Images/Corbis
Cyberstalking should always be taken seriously and reported to the police or FBI. © John Lund/Blend Images/Corbis

Cyberstalking is considered to be the most dangerous category of Internet harassment, because cyberstalking generally includes a "credible threat of harm," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Threats don't necessarily have to be made against the recipient of such communications. In fact, many malicious cyberstalkers bypass the target and direct their threats to the victim's loved ones, which can be an effective, albeit twisted means of getting what you want.

Such was the case for an art gallery owner in Temecula, California, who specifically targeted members of the art community. He repeatedly threatened former business acquaintances through emails and texts; posted defamatory information online and then demanded thousands of dollars to have the comments pulled down. The most horrific of his actions was to send images of his former employer's child to the employer electronically, accompanied by comments like, "It will be very unfortunate if something was to happen to him." The man was sentenced to five years in federal prison for stalking [source: U.S. Attorney's Office].

Cyberstalking laws are expected to become stricter as awareness of the problem continues to escalate, especially since many offenders are serious criminals like child molesters and others dealing with psychotic tendencies [source: No Bullying]. At any point, if you suspect that you or someone you know is being cyberstalked, take it seriously and seek help from law enforcement, the FBI or a victim assistance organization like the National Center for Victims of Crime or Working to Halt Online Abuse.