Many relationships that begin romantically can quickly become controlling, with partners reading emails, checking texts and locations of social media posts. This can be just the beginning, with many women reporting that their partner or ex-partner had used spyware or GPS locators to track them down. Many apps tend to default to open privacy settings and often asks to monitor your location. Always turn off location services within your phones settings to prevent others from accessing your location. Online platforms are increasingly used to perpetrate domestic abuse.
Online domestic abuse can include behaviours such as:
- monitoring of social media profiles or emails
- abuse over social media such as Facebook or Twitter
- sharing intimate photos or videos without your consent
- using GPS locators or spyware
How can an abuser discover your internet and mobile activities?
There are several ways that an abuser can monitor your internet and mobile activities. Spyware is a type of computer programme that, when installed on a computer, collects data about the person using the computer, from passwords to internet sites visited.
It is becoming very easy to purchase and install Spyware on home computers and mobile phones. You may think that you are safe to access a home computer, not knowing that what you do is being tracked.
Abusers can also monitor what you have been doing online without the use of spyware. As a matter of course, internet browsers will save certain information as you surf the internet. This includes images from websites visited, words entered into search engines and a trail (‘history’) that reveals the sites you have visited. To prevent an abuser from seeing what you’ve been looking at online, you must clear your browsing history after you have finished browsing the internet. It is important to find out how to clear your browsing information on all your devices. You can find up to date information on how to do this by searching online or in your devices’ user manual.
The only 100% safe way is to use a computer your abuser does not have access to!
Your browser can store passwords to save you time, but these can also be used by someone to access your account. When you first use a password on a site you will be asked if you want the browser to remember it – click no or browse in Private Mode. However, accidents happen and you may accidentally allow a password to be saved. You can delete saved passwords either as part of your history removal or separately, depending on your browser) – remember that removing all passwords may look suspicious if you share a computer.
Toolbars such as Google, AOL and Yahoo keep a record of the search words you have typed into the toolbar search box. In order to erase all the search words you have typed in, you will need to check the individual instructions for each type of toolbar. For example, for the Google toolbar click on the Google icon, and choose ‘Clear Search History’. Find out more about online safety.