To date, no study has directly examined the relationship between the sharing of personal information on SNS, or online disclosiveness, and the risk for cyberstalking.Cohen and Felson’s (1979) Routine Activity Theory argues that the risk for victimization increases when suitable or attractive targets are in close proximity to motivated offenders in the absence of effective guardianship.The expansion of online social networking sites and the relative accessibility to personal information provided by these sites has raised concerns about the risks for a variety of negative experiences, including cyberstalking.The present study investigated whether the theoretical concepts of Routine Activities Theory (RAT) could account for patterns of cyberstalking victimization among social networking site users.cyberstalking, routine activity theory, social networking, online disclosure doi: 10.5817/CP2012-1-4 Members of Generation Y have been identified as the fastest growing demographic among Internet users (Jones & Fox, 2009).Given the ubiquity of cyberspace for this demographic it is not surprising that one of the primary uses of the Internet for this group is social communication (Greenwood, 2009).
Other researchers have noted that SNS users exhibit a lack of awareness of the risks for online victimization associated with Internet social communication and online disclosure of information (Bugeja, 2006; Kornblum & Marklein, 2006; Marcum, Ricketts, & Higgins, 2010).Concerns over privacy and online disclosure have resulted in recent efforts to improve privacy setting controls for SNS users (e.g., Safer Social Networking Principles of the EU, 2009). Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 15, 263-290. Facebook has made numerous changes to privacy settings over the last several years, providing users with the ability to scale privacy settings to allow selected personal information to be viewed by different social network categories. Yet there is still variability in findings from the emerging literature.
Numerous factors may influence online disclosure and the use of privacy settings including friend network size (Lewis, Kaufman, & Christakis, 2008; Stutzman & Kramer-Duffield, 2010), gender (Boyd, 2008, Lewis et al., 2008; Stutzman & Kramer-Duffield, 2010), frequency of SNS use and proficiency (Boyd & Hargittai, 2010), and perceptions of privacy and privacy concern (Boyd, 2008; Livingstone, 2008; Raynes-Goldie, 2010; Young & Quan-Hasse, 2009). First, extant research shows that a number of SNS users may still share a great deal of personal information thereby likely increasing personal risk for victimization. Obsessive relational intrusion, coping, and sexual coercion victimization.
While early SNSs provided privacy options, default settings typically left personal profile information largely accessible (Gross & Acquisti, 2005).