How Can a Private Investigator Help With Cyberbullying?

Social media's growing popularity has helped connect people from all over the world. However, with all of the benefits this brings, it has also created challenges that are detrimental to our society. One of these emerging challenges is cyberbullying. Let's take a look at how you can prevent cyberbullying and how a private investigator in Knoxville can help track down the culprits if you or your family fall victim.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to the use of digital technologies, such as the internet, social media, or electronic communication, to harass, intimidate, or harm others. It involves the use of electronic devices and online platforms to send or post hurtful, threatening, or humiliating messages or images with the intention of causing emotional distress or harm to the target. There is currently no Federal law against cyberbullying, but all 50 states do have laws against bullying, and most, including Tennessee, have specific references to cyberbullying. If you or a member of your family is experiencing cyberbullying from an unknown source, a private investigator in Knoxville can help gather information and trace the culprit, allowing you to press charges.

Types of Cyberbullying

When most people think of cyberbullying, they immediately think of the victims as children and teens. This is a fair assumption, considering around 15% of adolescents in the United States have experienced cyberbullying. However, it is a very complex phenomenon that can impact people of all ages. Cyberbullying can manifest in various forms, including:

  • Harassment & Threats - According to the Pew Research Center, 41% of American adults have experienced online bullying in the form of harassment, name-calling, and humiliation. This type of cyberbullying involves sending offensive, threatening, or abusive messages to the victim. The threats may be related to doing physical harm or damaging property and can also include threats to embarrass the victim by revealing personal information or intimate images.
  • Identity Theft & Impersonation - It is also common for cyber bullies to impersonate their victims by creating fake online profiles using the victim's name and likeness. This is usually an attempt to damage their reputation by engaging in undesirable behavior, such as sending abusive messages to others or posting racist comments on public forums. They may also escalate this to identity theft and seek to damage the victim's credit rating or financial status. This goes far beyond the realm of schoolyard bullying, and a private investigator in Knoxville may need to help you gather evidence that your identity has been stolen so that you can move forward with legal action.
  • Doxxing & Invasion of Privacy - Doxxing, or 'Document Dropping,' is the act of publicly revealing an individual's private information, such as their home address, telephone number, or place of employment. This is dangerous as it can lead to both physical harm and harassment.

The Psychology Behind Cyberbullying

There have always been bullies, but the rise of social media and the internet in general has given them more opportunities to target victims with less chance of being caught. If social media has given them the opportunity, what has given them the motive? In order to prevent cyberbullying, it is useful to understand the psychology behind it.

  • Anonymity - The internet can provide a degree of anonymity to cyber bullies. This often encourages them, and people who may never have bullied their peers in person are willing to engage in harmful behavior because they have an illusion of anonymity. However, it is almost impossible to hide your identity on the internet fully, and a private investigator in Knoxville can likely track down anonymous cyberbullies.
  • Power & Control - Like any bully, one of the biggest motivators in cyberbullying is a need to exert control and dominance over their victims. They will revel in seeing the distress they are causing but often lack any empathy, which allows them to harm others with little or no remorse for their actions.
  • Revenge & Retaliation - Sometimes, cyberbullying comes from a desire to retaliate or seek revenge for some wrongdoing against them. The victim may have done something to upset or embarrass their bully, but in many cases, the bully imagines or exaggerates any slight to justify their actions.

How Can a Private Investigator Help?

A private investigator in Knoxville has a specialized set of skills that can help to combat cyberbullying effectively. Using a combination of surveillance, digital forensics, and talent for tracing fake profiles. This allows them to gather evidence to identify cyberbullies and to prove their harmful behavior. Some of the ways that they can do this include the following:

  • Social Media Monitoring - A private investigator in Knoxville can track social media to identify connections, monitor interactions, and identify potential threats.
  • Data Recovery - Sometimes, a victim will delete messages and emails from a cyberbully so they don't have to look at them. However, they will later discover they may be needed as evidence of the harassment. A private investigator in Knoxville can help to retrieve deleted messages.
  • Metadata Examination - Metadata can be used to prove the authenticity and the source of digital content, such as images and messages.
  • Chain of Custody Handling - In order for evidence to be admissible in court, a meticulous chain of custody is needed. Private investigators have the knowledge and skill to ensure this happens with any digital evidence they collect.
  • IP & eMail Tracing - IP addresses can be used to track the origin of abusive messages and pinpoint the sender's location. They can also identify if a virtual private network (VPN) is being used to mask their location or identity.
  • Profile Analysis & Background Checks - A private investigator in Knoxville can analyze online profiles, looking for unusual behavior, stolen images, and inconsistencies that might point to a fake profile. A background check can also help to authenticate or disprove these profiles.

If a cyberbully is targeting you, don't suffer in silence. Talk to your family, employer, or law enforcement to discuss your next steps. If you need help identifying the bully or gathering evidence to press charges, a private investigator in Knoxville can help.

Uncover the truth!


Ken Shull served as a Special Agent with the FBI for almost 25 years and was head of the FBI Polygraph program until his retirement in 2001. At that time he set up the Kendall Investigations practice as a private investigator in Knoxville, TN offering Polygraph services, private investigations, and security guards. Ken is a member of the American Polygraph Association and The American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The Truth is Still the Truth Even if No One Believes it, A Lie is Still a Lie Even if Everyone Believes it.