Dealing with a situation of being stalked on Facebook can be complicated by the fact that Facebook causes us to view our connections as "friends". That can make getting rid of these stalkers tough, because they just don't seem to go away, and you don't want to be mean to them. Yet, allowing their behavior to diminish your enjoyment of Facebook is no option at all, and there are some things you can try to get them to stop Facebook stalking. While most of the steps in this article are about how to deal with a Facebook stalking situation yourself in as non-confrontational and assertive a way as possible, be aware that if you feel more than just irritated or challenged by the behavior and instead feel threatened or harassed in any way, then the Facebook stalking has become very serious and should be dealt with promptly; this situation is discussed at the end of the article.
Understand what being stalked on Facebook might constitute.
While stalking on Facebook doesn’t have the physical elements of being stalked in the real world, such as being followed or watched, etc., the feelings unleashed tend to be just the same, and are just as real.
- Online stalking consists of people communicating with you in ways that unsettle you (whether purposefully intended or unknowingly), especially with respect to suggesting or implying that they’re watching and noting your every comment and update.
Really just be honest and say that you don’t like their posts and give reasons why.
They might appreciate the honesty. Rather than trying to appear smug.
Look to the intent behind the stalker’s motives.
The intent behind the person bothering you matters; clearly there is a difference between friends and family browsing your online information to keep themselves apprised of what you’re sharing and a person who targets you specifically, clinging over everything you do and then remarking on it, possibly spooking you.
- Research undertaken by University of Missouri Professor Kevin Wise has demonstrated that healthy wall viewing in Facebook consists of what he terms “social browsing”, whereby friends and family look at your general news feed and updates, enjoy the read but then move on to other people and activities; in other words, they’re simply including you in their circle of friendship. On the other hand, what Professor Wise terms “social searching” involves a more concerted action on behalf of the viewer. Here the viewer focuses solely on your wall posts, pictures, updates, etc., and doesn’t balance this with viewing other people’s Facebook feeds; in other words, this person is behaving as if he or she is obsessed with you.
- A “social searcher” experiences far stronger emotional reactions in relation to what he or she reads than people merely socially browsing. This suggests that if a Facebook stalker is “out to get you” (either to be more a part of your world or to avenge a slight or a break up, etc.), it’s possible they’ll misconstrue everything you say online into something it isn’t.
Check for possible Facebook stalking signs.
Some indicators of Facebook stalking might include (dependent on who the person is and what they’re up to):
- Is the person failing to leave you alone despite your various requests to stop messaging you, leaving wall comments, or sending you things like links and Farmville gifts?
- Are they leaving lots of comments that are suggestive of the two of you spending more time, or even the rest of your lives, together (and they’re not your lover or spouse)?
- Are you at the receiving end of intimidating language or abusive language (such as cursing or sexually suggestive comments)?
- Are you being bullied and/or threatened? For example, has someone been posting unkind, doctored, private, etc., photos of you online (or perhaps of people close to you as well)?
- Are you experiencing a case where the person will simply not leave you alone but keeps posting updates, sending messages, and constantly butting in? While not necessarily being nasty, mean, or threatening, doing this constantly tends to reveal obsessive behavior.
Consider your own perception of the Facebook stalking situation.
If the person stalking you is chatting with you every time you’re online, sending you constant messages in your inbox, is always commenting on and liking all your posts and photos, and is barely leaving you alone, your response can range anywhere from irritation and frustration to finding it unpleasant, difficult to deal with, and overwhelming. Even if these actions are done only occasionally, there can be a problem where anything they’ve said leaves you feeling pressured, upset by what they’ve added, or you’ve asked them to stop contacting you at all but they haven’t.
- Consider your own feelings before worrying about theirs. Do you feel like someone is stalking you just because of what they’re saying or doing? Do you feel as if someone is obsessing over you (either because they really like or really hate you)?
- Do you feel overwhelmed, bewildered, annoyed by their constant messaging and posts? This is enough of a reason for you to find a solution that works for you.
Provided that you don’t feel immediately threatened (see step 11), try responding in a graduated way. Realize that there is always the possibility that this person doesn’t really understand that what he or she is doing is so upsetting to you. It’s recommended that you try to open the lines of constructive communication before taking the issue more seriously. After all, there’s no need to cause unnecessary drama in your life because you reacted rudely to the other person or misunderstood their motives, only to end up with them and 10 other people ranting at you about it! Start by assuming the best and simply asking them to stop, keeping in mind that if this doesn’t work, you have all the remaining options at your disposal.
- Say something like: “Hey J! Did you realize that you’re the only person who leaves me posts and messages every hour? I’m finding it hard to deal with and I’d be really happy if you could cut it back to, say, one post a day instead. Does that work for you?”
- Obviously, if the person leaving the messages and notes is a real life close friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, or a family member, it goes without saying that some of these people will leave a lot of messages because it seems the natural thing to do. All the same, they should acquiesce to any requests from you to chill on their excessive messaging and if talking to them doesn’t work, speak with other family members or friends to get additional support.
Try short replies or no replies at all.
If they comment on a picture by saying such things as how pretty it is and how you should hang out with them, and how awesome they think you are, etc., just say little; a “Thanks” will suffice. If they chat with you and write really long messages just say, “lol” or “ok” to show that you aren’t really interested. Next, proceed to not replying at all to anything this person leaves on your wall and in your message box. For example, if they comment on your statuses just saying, “lol” or “ok”, don’t even reply, and they won’t have leverage left to keep that comment stream running. In this way, you’re giving out subtle hints that you’re annoyed by what this person is doing but that you’re not going to get involved by replying.
Leave less subtle hints.
More obvious hints might cause some people to feel embarrassed enough around mutual friends online to stop. For example, tag them in a post (put the @ symbol and then their name) and say something like, “I love how (person’s name) comments and likes all of my things!” This is not too rude, but it gives them a clear hint that you’ve noticed and find it annoying. Hopefully, they’ll get the hint. Just be aware that they might also think it’s a compliment or a thank you to them.
- You might try a wall post: “Please don’t leave comments when I post stuff like X, Y, Z. It’s just an update of no consequence!” It doesn’t directly name them but it does make it clear to them that you don’t think much of the commenting.
- If you can’t beat them, join them! This might cure the problem in its tracks. If he or she is a Facebook friend you don’t know too well, but who is always commenting and liking your stuff, try commenting and liking all of his or her stuff too. It may well be that this person genuinely digs you and the two of you might just become good friends with shared interests as a result! This step is a twist on the “don’t assume the worst of other people” step; sometimes it takes changing your perspective and broadening your understanding of using Facebook in order to put things right again. Maybe an online friendship will grow, but only if you try!
Ask them to stop again, more firmly this time.
When it really starts to get on your nerves and you’ve already tried the softly softly approaches, get back to them politely but be firmer this time. Send a chat message or an inbox message and let them know that the constant commenting and messaging is not appropriate, that you’d like them to comment and like your stuff a lot less. For example:
- “Hey X! I’m following up my earlier request to you to ease up a little on the posts and messaging. It’s really not working for me having you leave so many posts; it’s not like I even post interesting stuff worth commenting on half the time. I had hoped you’d understood my request last time and now I’m letting you know that I need you stop doing this. It’s not like I’m going to read or respond to what you’re adding and it’d be better for both of us if you stopped.” At this point, you can make a choice as to whether or not you will warn them about your intention to block them.
If they won’t take the hints or the direct messages, consider blocking them.
There are two approaches to this. The first is to warn them that you’ll do it and then to follow through if they don’t heed your warning within a set period of time. Only do this if you think it’ll have an impact and won’t make them angry with you. The second response is to simply block them and not alert them – if you’ve already given enough hints, it’ll hardly be a surprise.
- You can block a friend by going to your Privacy Settings. Click on the button “Customize” and go to “Posts by Me”. Click on “Customize” again and block them from viewing your wall. Read How to delete friends from Facebook for more information on removing a friend.
- For people hassling you in general, read How to block people on Facebook for more information.
- Read How to block someone in Facebook chat if you want to stop someone chatting to you using Facebook.
Tell your friends.
It’s important to let friends you trust know what’s happening, especially where they’re mutual friends with both of you. If they’re supportive of you and understanding of the situation, they can either take the same action or they can keep a lookout for the behavior of the blocked person and let you know what’s happening. This is important for several reasons – if you took this action because you felt there was no other choice but you’re still offline friends, then your other friends can help smooth the waters between the two of you; or, if the blocked person feels offended and tries to retaliate, the more people who can support you and try to help the other person see the error of their ways, the better.
- Realize that some obsessive people don’t always understand the harm they’re inflicting. In some cases, they may even think they’ve been super friendly or caring, and being blocked can cause them to take this as a personal rejection which might lead them seeking to muddy your reputation if you’re not careful.On the other hand, they may just be someone who really got the wrong end of the stick on how to use Facebook and will apologize when he or she finally “gets it”.
- On the other hand, they may just be someone who really got the wrong end of the stick on how to use Facebook and will apologize when he or she finally “gets it”.
- You may also choose to report them to Facebook as well. This will bring in Facebook’s abuse team who have the ability to prevent them from using Facebook, or contact their Internet service provider or local authorities.
If you feel genuinely threatened, humiliated, harassed, or you’re in fear, as a result of what the other person has been posting on Facebook, seek help quickly.
Talk to parents, friends, teachers, counselors, etc., and let them know what you’re going through. Actions taken to instill fear or make threats are as real and wrong online as they are offline. This is not something to put up with alone and the sooner you get support and someone else to talk to, the sooner you’ll know whether or not the fears are in your own head or whether there really is a situation to be concerned about.
- Never let any threats of harm to you or property damage slide. These are police matters and contacting the police immediately is warranted.
- It is recommended that you only add people to your friends list whom you truly consider to be friends or people you know. By doing this, you will eliminate stalkers almost completely.
- If it’s a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, or family member, talk to them directly.
- It is recommended that you don’t ever add people you don’t like or get along with. Just because they’re popular or they’re friends of some of your other friends, doesn’t mean that your inability to get along won’t surface. Sometimes such “enemies” start stalking you by dissing you when commenting statuses and photos, writing nasty messages on your wall, and liking statuses that you write that aren’t good (for example: “My cell phone just broke!”) and trying to cause drama. Just avoid even adding them, and eliminate even more stalkers.
- Don’t feel you have to accommodate people who misuse the Facebook service. Your feelings and enjoyment are as important as anybody else’s, and if your Facebook experience has been considerably spoiled by their behavior, then accommodating them any further will simply continue to harm you
- Assume the best before assuming the worst, where relevant. It may just be poor Facebook etiquette or understanding, or the person may be going through a rough patch. On the other hand, if you feel threatened or harassed, don’t treat it lightly; get help immediately, even if it’s just to talk it through with someone else’s level head giving you their perspective of the matter.