Digital Abuse via Social Networking Accounts
Despite security measures, it is surprisingly easy to create a fake social media account in order to torment a victim.
ARTICLES | BY Remus Holland
When most people think of domestic or dating abuse, they tend to picture physical violence or verbal attacks, but unfortunately in this age of increasing dependence on technology, abuse has taken on many other forms. Whether perpetrated in person or via social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, all of these forms of abuse have one thing in common: they are emotionally devastating to their victims.
This digital abuse can cover everything from burying someone in an avalanche of texts to publishing sexually explicit photographs without permission to creating fake social media accounts in order to keep track of your significant other’s online behavior.
Unfortunately this has become a raging epidemic, particularly among teens but also among young adults. And the worst part about this type of abuse is that it can be difficult to prove and even more difficult to stop. In fact, many victims don’t even realize that they are being targeted or that there is anything they can do to prevent the attacks.
Despite security measures, it is surprisingly easy to create a fake social media account in order to torment a victim. Fake accounts may be created in the victim’s name to make it look as if they are engaging in unsavory behavior or under assumed names to see if a significant other can be baited into interacting with a stranger of the opposite sex.
All of this is an outgrowth of controlling behavior, one of the most common and most vicious forms of emotional abuse. All too often we hear stories of victims being utterly controlled by a domineering partner who tells them what to wear, what friends they can haveand even whether or not they can hold down a job. And sadly, many victims don’t even realize they are being abused, believing instead that they have done something to deserve this treatment.
In the digital realm this can quickly be taken to the next level. The abuser may assert control by constantly calling, texting or checking the victim’s social media account to keep track of their activities. Even GPS software can be manipulated in order to be continually aware of a victim’s physical location. And when a victim does try to speak up, often there are threats of using “revenge pornography”, sexually explicit photos published after a breakup in order to publicly humiliate the subject.
This kind of abuse can be particularly damaging because it is almost impossible to avoid unless you are willing to give up all of your electronic devices. Aside from taking that step, you need to be constantly vigilant. If you are getting friend requests on social media from people you don’t know or if you start getting messages from people on Facebook or other sites that just don’t feel right, odds are the profiles are fake.
The best advice when you suspect a Facebook profile is fake is to trust your instincts. If something is making you suspicious chances are there is good reason for it. And remember that nobody has the right to harass you online for any reason, so if you do fall victim to digital abuse you don’t have to take it. There are resources in place to help you get out of abusive relationships, so please seek help and break the cycle of abuse before it breaks you.
PARENTS, TEENS AND DIGITAL MONITORING
From: Pew Research Center
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