It’s a cold night. You are chilling at your place, in your room, on your comfy bed. Probably checking your Instagram account or scrolling down through Facebook posts, before you doze off to sleep.
Suddenly, you hear a gentle tap kinda sound from outside. As if a branch brushed your window or a small insect crashed on the glass. You ignore it.
You get back to doing what teenagers do. Listening to songs, chat with your friends. Suddenly, you get a text from a guy whom you have hardly met. Maybe once or twice through a random friend. You open the text. It says ‘Hey, I just wanted to ask if you have seen this?’.
You are confused, even a bit shocked as to why is this person wanting to ask you something so late in the night. You brush it off and ask what is it about.
He sends you an Instagram link.
You curiously open the link and freeze in terror. It is an account by your name, but you haven’t created it. That’s for sure. But strangely, it’s full of pictures. Of you. There are over a hundred pictures in that account.
Random candid pictures of you eating, walking on a street. You scroll down. You see pictures of you sleeping on your bed, taken through the window. There are even pictures of you coming out of a bath, in a towel. Of you eating breakfast in your bed. Drinking water by the fridge. Standing on your balcony.
You feel terrified. You are still trying to absorb what you just saw. You fumble and try to call the friend who sent you this link. All the while, thousands of thoughts cross your mind.
Who would do such a thing? Who would create a fake account? And why?
And why on earth are there pictures of you filled in that account, which you don’t even remember clicking? You console yourself and try to breathe.
But somewhere deep in your heart, you know what’s going on. Someone is stalking you. Someone has been following you day in day out, since months. And you are terrified that you don’t know anything about it.
You muster up the courage to call out your friend who informed you about it. You dial the number and he picks up. ‘Hey’, he says. You can’t even speak, a tear rolls down your eyes and you try to mutter up a sentence.
He says,’ I know we haven’t talked much, but I came across this profile that had your name. It actually says that this is an admirer’s account which is under your name. So, I thought I should let you know.’
You hold your breath. Admirer?
You didn’t even bother to check the description of the account. And when you do, you see ‘I admire you’, Biggest fan, You are the love of my life, written under the description of that profile.
You are creeped out now. And you hear another tap on your window. You get goosebumps. Now you know, the tap sound wasn’t made by branches, or twigs or insects. You run downstairs and yell out to your parents. They wake up, concerned.
You show them what happened. The police arrive. But by then its too late. The account gets deleted by the stalker and you don’t remember the username so that they can trace it back to the person who created it. All they can do is file a report against an anonymous person, who stalked you for quite a long period of time.
The case gets closed after a while. But your life is not the same anymore. You are scared when you step out, thinking someone might follow you. You can’t sleep at nights because you feel someone is watching over you.
This can happen to anyone.
With you, with me, with your friend.
The drawbacks of using Social Media Carelessly:
Social media undoubtedly have brought people closer to each other and to the world, but if you are careless while using it, you might end up being a victim of cybercrime. The incident I mentioned above happened with a teenage girl, who like usual teenage kids, loved to post her pictures online.
Most of them were in shorts or revealing clothes and she had made the account available to public view. There were pictures of her in front of her house, that showed the address and street name. Moreover, most of the times she used to add location while posting the pictures.
I am sure many of you don’t bother to lock your profile or even think before clicking a picture that shows the exact location of your house, school, gym etc. I mean, who thinks that this could lead to an eventual stalking. Right?
But yes, it does happen. And you make it easy for the stalker because you openly post pictures. Using this, anyone, who potentially wants to stalk you, can easily figure out where you live, what you do, who are your friends and what not.
I know, it might sound hard but you should be careful while posting your pictures. You should always make your account private and accept the follow requests of people you know. Moreover, you should avoid putting pictures which give away your address or the street name.
And for girls, body revealing pictures might increase the number of likes on your picture, but it has the potential to create an army of stalkers as well.
If you just keep these few basic things in your mind, you will save yourself a lot of trouble. Trust me on this one.