Social media makes it easy to keep in touch with people you otherwise wouldn’t see or hear from. If your best friend is travelling in a different country, or you’ve just moved to a new city and left your mates behind, it’s nice to be able keep up to date with what’s going on in everyone’s life.
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Unfortunately, social media makes it just as easy for people you might not want to stay in touch with, to keep tabs on you and what you’re doing. This is really obvious after you break up with someone; it’s almost impossible to end things cleanly if Facebook’s News Feed algorithm keeps putting their posts front and center.
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While you can go in and purge your News Feed, this doesn’t stop someone else from following everything you do. So, let’s look at how to stop people stalking you on the four major social networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.
Facebook is the easiest to deal with because everyone is (in theory) using their real identity. It only takes a few seconds to create a new Twitter account and follow someone, but creating a new Facebook account that’s believable enough that someone will accept a friend request from it? That takes time and effort.
How far you want to go to stop someone having access to your stuff is up to you. The simplest option is to just unfriend them. This way, after things blow over, you can add them again if you want. They’ll be able to see anything you share publicly but that’s it.
If unfriending someone is going to cause more drama than you want, you can also just set things so they can’t see your Facebook posts. This is a lot more subtle, but they will still be able to post stuff on your Timeline, comment on old posts they can see, and message you.
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To prevent them from seeing anything at all, the only option is to block them. It will seem like you don’t exist on Facebook to them. You can unblock them later if you want to add them as a friend again.
Finally, if someone is stalking or abusing you, you should report them to Facebook. Depending on how seriously they are breaking Facebook’s terms of service, they could be banned from the site from anything from a few days to forever.
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While Facebook is the easiest, Twitter is the hardest. As a service, it’s set up so that it’s quick and easy for anyone to create an anonymous account. This is why it has such an abuse problem.
The first step is to block the person’s main account. They’ll no longer be able to see your Tweets, visit your profile, Direct Message you, and so on.
If the person is reasonable, this should be enough. If, however, they start creating new accounts just to follow you, you should consider making your account private. That way, you’ll have to approve every follower.
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As always, if there’s actual abuse going on, report the account.
Instagram has a creep problem. If you’re a girl publicly posting photos of yourself, there’s a good chance that someone will say something weird at some point, whether in the comments or by Direct Messaging you.
As usual, the first step is to block the offending account. This will prevent them from seeing your posts or contacting you. You can also report their account if they take things too far.
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While it’s not quite as quick and easy to set up multiple Instagram accounts as it is Twitter accounts, it’s still possible. If someone keeps dodging your blocks by creating new accounts, the best option is to make your account private. Then, any time someone tries to follow you, you will have to approve it.
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Snapchat, like Facebook, has a few options. They already won’t see any of your private Snaps, so the most low key option is just to block them from viewing your Story.
If you just want to be rid of them entirely, you can also just block them. This way, they won’t be able to send you Snaps or view your Story. You can also report people, but because of the disappearing nature of Snaps, the process is more awkward than on other social networks.
Social media has made breakups a lot trickier. The best thing is normally to cut contact for a few months at least, and then reassess. All the major social networks have a couple of different tools to let you do it.
One thing to remember is that if things cross over into harassment, abuse, or intimidation, you should go to the police.