Dating is amazing, as it brings novelty into your life. You get to date a stranger who you’ve never met before and open to them. Wait, it sounds a bit scary. Yes, we usually tend to get more excited to play this perfect character in front of a new person and let our relationship develop gradually, but is it safe to give out all your personal information? Yes, some strangers on the Internet misunderstand what is considered a date and dig up all your dirty laundry.
Workers at Police Departments often recommend not even going with your real name, as cyber-safety is very vulnerable with the presence of so many hacker tools. Yes, if the person you’re talking to sounds and acts frisky, it’s not always your paranoia. Here are some tips and red flags that will help you a lot with detecting a stalker at an early stage:
- You find your photos all over the Internet. These are specific selfies you only shared with your new friend. You don’t remember uploading them to Google Images, nor do you usually search up your name and find any results (unless you are already popular, that would make it harder).
- The reverse image search gave out your photos. Try Googling your photos in Google Image search or Tineye (https://tineye.com/). If you notice results, try to investigate what type of sites your photos are affiliated with. These can be bank fraud, false advertisements, or even fake provocative photos or deep fake pornography. If you notice any of those crimes and appearances against your will, don’t try to provoke the stalker into revealing the information. They might understand you are trying to out them and disappear. In case you see your photos leaked, cooperate with authorities ASAP! Follow their instructions and don’t be scared to seek help!
- You can find your information on Google Alert. https://www.google.com/alertsis a tool that notifies you if someone mentions your name on a website or social platform. If you are not a celebrity yet but constantly pop up on Google Alerts, it means that somebody is trying to dig up information about you, search you for their purposes, or sign you up for something.
- You can check Social Mentions to do the tracking. Go and visit https://mention.com/en/to see if anybody is mentioning your name. This is an app for both Windows and Mac OS that will alert in case of an emergency.
- You see random people subscribing to you. If you get random followers on Instagram or Facebook and they come in groups of 2-10 people per day, this has to make you think whether someone shared your photos or information. Especially if you don’t see any common users in their subscribers. Any random unfamiliar people who bombard you with requests? It’s time to make your page private for the sake of safety.
- You receive strange requests. If you have a habit of sharing intimate photos (which you shouldn’t do because revenge porn is a thing), don’t be surprised if your admirer shared these photos with a couple of their friends. Sometimes you can even find yourself on imageboards like 4Chan and Reddit. You can always Google a thread with your name.
Remember that the most effective way to battle a stalker is by preventive means. If you don’t want to be searched, never give out your information to a stranger, no matter how good-looking and reliable they are. Don’t share provocative photos and avoid giving out links with your personal information, your IP, information about your friends and relatives. Avoid mentioning your financial status, address, phone number, and even your last name! Be safe, and if you have any suspicion, contact the police without hesitation!
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