How to handle a Facebook bully or stalker

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An anonymous reader has been getting a lot of unwanted, and potentially frightening, attention on Facebook. I offer some advice.

If someone on Facebook continually insults you, upsets you, threatens you, or makes unwanted sexual advances, ask them to stop. If they do, fine. If not, you've got a stalker.

First, ask yourself if you feel physically threatened. If the bully is threatening you with violence, or stalking you in the physical world, or coming to your home, the problem is beyond cyberbullying. You need to call the police.

[Have a tech question? Ask PCWorld Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector. Send your query to answer@pcworld.com.]

If things aren't that bad, try to reason with the person. Have you wronged them in some way? Is an apology in order? See if you can open a real dialogue.

But if that tactic fails on the first try, stop using it. You don't want to appear weak or groveling.

Next, block the jerk so that they can't easily send you anything on Facebook. Here's how:

  1. Click the lock menu in the upper-right corner and select How do I stop someone from bothering me?
  2. Enter their name (the first name will probably be enough) and click Block.
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  3. In the resulting dialog box, find the person (who will probably be near the top) and click the Block button by their name.
    0115 block people
  4. In the "Are you sure…" dialog box, read the explanation of what will happen, consider the options, and click the Block (name) button.
    0115 ok block

But blocking them may not be enough. Even if you use Strict Filtering, some messages can get through. According to Facebook, "someone you're not connected to…may pay to ensure their message is routed to your inbox instead of your Other folder." Not a good policy, in my opinion.

In the end, going public may be your best solution. Post an explanation on your timeline, explaining what's going on. Tag mutual friends to make sure they see and read your story. And talk about it, in the real world or by phone, with people close to you. Being bullied is much easier if you have a network of supporting friends.

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