The first British study into so-caller ‘cyberstalking’ has fingered Facebook as the most likely avenue for the harassment suffered by online stalking victims.
Prepared by researchers from the University of Bedfordshire’s National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (yes, there is such a thing), the draft report called Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom (pdf) has been presented to MPs as part of a parliamentary inquiry into Cyberstalking.
The report authors said that males were more likely to experience a "harasser" damage their reputation while women were more likely to "focus on fear of physical harm," the report said.
Most of those surveyed by the report had their initial contact with their stalker offline, although eight per cent initially met via social networking. However after the initial contact, social networking was the preferred method for cyberstalkers to harass their victims, ahead of webmail and text messages.
The report authors said that providers of online services had a "duty" to their users to combat cyberstalkers.
"There needs to be a clear process so users know how to report harassment and a time limit so a site must respond within a set number of days," report author Professor Carsten Maple told the BBC.