“When Social Networking Gets Creepy”

Below is my final research paper for RHT 101. Even though this is probably one of the easiest “blow-off” classes that is required, I have took this seriously and have been using this tedious class to my advantage. I even gained a relationship with a teacher I never saw myself doing. He was so understanding and passionate with this class, and challenging me has done so much for my writing and this blog.


Online networks have been the trend since the invention of internet. First it was emails and Bulletin Boards that gave people a chance to connect with. Today, the social networking sites have greatly expanded the horizons of possible interactions, allowing you to share photos, messages, files, even the latest information about where you are and what you’re doing. Although these networks can be very useful, it’s easy to make information about you available to people who want to misuse it.  It’s like a big party filled with some friends you are close with as well as some people you don’t know at all. It’s effortless to overlook the dangers of social networking, rather than focusing on the fun.

Sometimes accepting that seemingly harmless Facebook friend request can turn into much more. It could be a connection on a more personal — and much creepier — level that you never even have planned. According to CQ Researcher, each year the “dominance” of social media in individuals’ lives are drastically increasing (Clemmit). Lets say you make a Facebook profile for example, you are asked to fill out a questionnaire including the information where you live, your hometown, what you school(s) you have attended, where you work, your age, upload a picture of yourself, who’s your family, your relationship status,and the list goes on. With all the information about you in just one click, this is where social networking gets creepy.

Harassment is involved with 89% of American adults (Paul) who have a profile on any social media site. In an interview with a research analyst at Pew, Maeve Duggan, explained to the interviewee that yes men experience more harassment online, but the difference is that it’s not as harsh compared to the sexual harassment and stalking surveyed that women experience (Duggan). Chatting online is so easy because you don’t have to face the awkward moment of rejection. This is why people feel comfortable requesting or following someone online that they don’t know in person. From personal experience, on my Facebook page I set my profile picture as a “selfie” as many children my age would do. Because I was young at the time I didn’t know that there was such thing as setting things of private, so everything I had filled out about myself was open for the world to see. This would lead to some messages listed below (cite source personal Facebook):

“Hey wat up call to get to know each other *********”

“Hey, you are really pretty. I think we could get along pretty well”

“I will like be ur friend and more.”

The list goes on and on. As a victim, it’s hard not to ask yourself what you did wrong. Like I was the reason these strange men messaged me. But now I know I wasn’t the problem. Some may argue that these messages are just “freedom of speech”, but it’s not okay when you’re making someone uncomfortable. Users generally become more comfortable when they are talking behind a screen (Trottier) and this has taught me there will always be “whistle blowers” of social media.

66% of internet users who have experienced online harassment said their most recent incident has been on a social networking site or app (Duggan). Many people, especially men, ignore the claims and say “it’s just a compliment”, wondering why women become upset when it’s “done in good fun,” when it’s “just the Internet.” It is the “new normal” that women have to face all the time. They use women’s profile pictures, for example, to communicate an unnecessary comment on their appearance (whether complementary or insulting) or requests for sexual engagement.

Both women and men share struggles against name calling, personal attacks and general “trolls” in any online network (Paul) But women too many times face an additional comments, insults, and abuse. “Thirty-eight percent of women reported that their harassment was “extremely or very upsetting,” while only 17 percent of harassed men felt the same.” (Kleinman). A main reason this poll turned out the way it did and why it’s such a big issue is because women take the harassment much for to heart than men. A female video game blogger in Brisbane Australia, named Alanah Pearce, was a responder to the degrading and disrespectful comments left on one of her articles. Because she was so fed up with the hate, she did her own investigation, and found that the people commenting were not adults, in fact they were little boys. She picked through and found a way to contact their parents to let them know the damage they have done with their words. She uploaded a screenshot about the parents’ responses. By confronting them like the way she did, this could lead to a trend of ongoing confrontation to stop the sexual harassment (Essert).

A popular strategy to fight off your harassers is by taking direct action and being confrontational (like mentioned above with Pearce). Confronting their harasser, you are creating a non- violent way of letting you know how you feel and that you are taking this in a serious manner rather than letting it slide (Waerner). Furthermore, different online networks have different blocking and privacy policies and reporting systems. It’s easy once a harasser becomes blocked, they can just create a new account, simple as that. A site can still make a mistake even when having trolling policies. Thorlaug Agustsdottir, a woman from Iceland was involved in an online argument in 2011 (Hudson) with a member of a Facebook group “Men are better than women.” A picture was added to the page, it was of Agustsdottir’s face, edited to make her look beaten up. Right away she went to Facebook to report the picture considered as “graphic violence” but it was not taken down (Hudson).

What you can do to protect yourself from the problem-causing “friends” is to politely give him/her a hint, then report the inappropriate behavior to Facebook or any social network immediately. To prevent strangers from viewing your profile, you might want to consider hiding your public profile, or, at least, change the visibility of your profile photo so that it is only visible to people you have already accepted as a friend. In this case, Facebook allows users to control who can message you, which can definitely help protect and keep potential creepers from harassing you online. Lastly, remove the person from your network so that you won’t have to see their face or profile when scrolling through your Facebook homepage. Make sure to monitor who you “add” and who “follows” you and only add the people you want to know more about you. If someone is rude or asks you personal questions, don’t waste your time responding, cut off all contact. Another tip is to make sure you refrain from posting pictures with inappropriate messages. If it’s something with a sexual reference, you might unintentionally attract someone who is interested. An overall message to keep in the back of your mind while creating a social profile is to never say or upload something your parents wouldn’t like to know about you.

The next time you get a “friends request” or “follow” on social media, beware of the potential benefits and more importantly dangers of clicking the accept button because, for some, “accept” really means “I do.” Because there is a fine line between complimenting and following someone, and being just plain creepy on the internet.



Boyd, Danah, and Jeffrey Heer. “Profiles as Conversation: Networked Identity Performance on Friendster.” Danah.org., 4 Jan. 2006. Web.

Clemmitt, Marcia. “Social Networking: Are Online Social Networks Eroding Privacy?” CQ Researcher by CQ Press. CQ Researcher, 17 Sept. 2010. Web.

Digital Friends Staff. “The History of Social Networking.” Digital Trends. Article, 5 Aug. 2014. Web.

Duggan, Maeve. “Part 2: The Online Environment.” Pew Research Center’s Internet American Life Project RSS. Pew Research, 22 Oct. 2014. Web.

Essert, Matt. “This Woman’s Response to Online Rape Threats Deserves a Standing Ovation.” Identities.Mic., 28 Nov. 2014. Web.

Hudson, Laura. “Facebook’s Questionable Policy on Violent Content Toward Women | WIRED.” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 02 Jan. 0013. Web.

Kleinman, Alexis. “26 Percent Of Young Women Report That They Have Been Stalked Online.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Oct. 2014. Web.

Paul, Sonia. “Pew: Women Suffering Online Harassment Worse Than Men.” PBS. PBS Wttw 11, 22 Oct. 2014. Web.

Trottier, Daniel. Social Media as Surveillance: Rethinking Visibility in a Converging World. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate, 2012. Print. Chapter 1.

Waerner, Catherine. “Thwarting Sexual Harassment on the Internet.”Uow.edu. Web.

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