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Smartphones, social media & other technologies

Smartphones, social media & other technologies

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Technology-facilitated violence, stalking and harassment

Relationship abuse and family violence isn’t always about physical threats or violence. Electronic communication and online behaviour by a partner, family member or someone else you know can also be abusive if it makes you feel scared or unsafe.

Technology-facilitated violence and online abuse can include:

  • Checking or hacking your email account
  • Monitoring your internet use
  • ‘Revenge porn’, where a person distributes or posts false, humiliating or intimate/sexualised videos or photos of you without your consent
  • Messaging, emailing or texting you in a way that makes you feel coerced, intimidated or scared
  • Spreading rumours about you, or impersonating you
  • Harassing or threatening you, or your friends and family on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or dating/chat/games sites.

Stalking, including online or cyberstalking is a crime. It can also indicate a high level of risk in a violent relationship. If you are making a report to the police, be clear about your concerns regarding the use of technology and gather any evidence that may assist in an investigation.

The NSW police have advice on how to record stalking incidents and what details to gather for the purpose of making a report to police.

Smartphones

By 2016 there will be more than 20 million smartphones used in Australia. More people will access online services like banking, shopping and internet browsing via their smartphones than on a computer.[1]

Our regular reliance on smartphones in daily life, and the information they gather and transmit such as texts, call data, and the geographic/location details, means they are an important tool for communication. But they also have the potential to be used as a tool of abuse.

The Victorian SmartSafe research found that technology, including smartphones, is being used by abusers as an additional avenue for abuse that provides 24 hour access to victims.

According to this research:

  • 80% of women received texts that made them feel afraid
  • 65 % of women received calls that made them feel afraid, and
  • 63% of women believed they were being followed or tracked.

The role of smartphones in technology-facilitated abuse includes:

  • Threatening or abusive phone calls
  • Repetitive threatening or abusive text messages
  • Tracking your location through Apps and ‘find my phone’ services
  • Geotagging of photographs taken with smartphones
  • Smartphone spyware

Steps can be taken to increase your safety and privacy and limit the abuser’s access. 

Warning: If you believe that improving your technology safety may escalate the violence or abuse, check out the ‘Support’ section of this site for safety tips. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 000.

Safety tips: visit Technology safety planning & privacy tips

Social Media

Depending on privacy settings and what information is visible, it is possible for an abusive person to find out a lot about your life and whereabouts. This can happen either directly from your own account, or via interaction with your family, friends and others online.

An abusive person can also make direct contact with a person even if they have moved to a new geographic location. Nearly half (49%) of women surveyed in the Victorian SmartSafe research received contact from the abuser via Facebook.

People can also set up false social media accounts. This can give them access to information if they have been blocked, as well as to impersonate others including the victim, or to use social media as a forum to share damaging or abusive information with a person’s family and friends.

To improve privacy on social media set your privacy settings to the maximum, so you limit who can see information that you post, or that others post about you.

For Facebook settings: http://mashable.com/2011/02/07/facebook-privacy-guide/

For Twitter settings: http://www.tomsguide.com/us/lock-down-twitter-privacy-settings,news-18865.html

Privacy policies for social media platforms: https://www.fosi.org/good-digital-parenting/privacy-guide/

Share these resources with your friends or family and, if you are experiencing online abuse or harassment, ask them to consider adjusting their own privacy settings, and to not tag you in pictures, to help limit information about you online.

Safety tips: visit Advice for family and friends

Other technologies

Many different electronic devices and technologies can be used to abuse and harass. These include hidden cameras, computer spyware, GPS tracking devices, hidden recording devices and other spyware. These are available online or at spyware shops, and can be relatively inexpensive.

Warning: If you are concerned that someone may be monitoring you with the use of these technologies, check out the ‘Support’ section of this site for safety tips. If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 000.




[1] Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association www.amta.org.au