"Social networks could take a strong and meaningful stand against harassment simply by applying the same sort of standards in their online spaces that we already apply in our public and professional lives."
Fall is my favorite season, and frankly the average Americans’ favorite season. But, last fall was stripped of a lot of enjoyment I was looking forward to having in fall. I allowed myself to be affected by the hate of someone else.
A boyfriend at the time and I (mostly I) were being pestered online via various channels of social media by a person. I do believe it was all the same person. It all started for him prior to my time, but was just starting for me when we started dating in April of last year. For anyone who has never been harassed by someone manipulating the internet, this probably won’t make much sense to talk about as often as I do, but it is traumatizing and twistedly-humorous at the same time.
I say humorous only because, once you get past the traumatizing part of being successfully targeted, you can then realize that the person who is doing the act is very sad, full of hate and it is obvious that this is what they are doing to entertain themselves. You have become the center of their world and you are on their mind constantly. What sort of sad life is that?
Whenever I received a tweet from a fake account, an email from a fake person, a friend telling us what that person has been saying about us/posting about us, an image texted from a fake Craigslist account someone posted on my behalf, I laughed. I laughed because someone obviously thinks that they are getting away with it, and that no one knows it is them.. we all know. How flattering that they would want to contact me any way possible for something so petty. The struggle of all of this was with not stooping to the lowest of lows (to their level) and responding to posts, and that I couldn’t prove any of it aside from just being coincidence. None of these instances could be proven without opening a civil case, because they were just inside the realm of “anonymity of the Internet”.
Someone was literally spending hours, and probably days, of their life creating numerous emails to start fake social media accounts, crafting strategic messages for those channels and stalking my social media pages. Sounds a lot like love. I feel like a big deal.
After the passing of Robin Williams this summer, Internet harassers took to Twitter to attack Williams’ daughter, Zelda Williams using fake accounts and sometimes their real accounts. The absolutely only positive note that came from that situation was that Twitter is looking to revamp its user-protection policies.
From an article on CNN.com, Twitter’s Vice president of Trust and Safety, Del Harvey, was quoted for saying, “We will not tolerate abuse of this nature on Twitter. We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one.”
That will have to be a start. What is wrong with people? This is the way people choose to live their lives?
I don’t wish this new advancement to protection (and more) to happen only because it will help me move forward and feel confident in who is behind certain Twitter or Facebook accounts, but also so that others would not have to deal with the hatred like the person who did this to me.
More “funny”/crazy/stalker/harassing instances that took place in the past year:
I find that I write about this a lot, because it is something that I know happens to people, maybe rarely, but it still happens. It might sound like a selfish cry for help or a way to get attention, but at the end of the day it is scary and sad and should be discussed. I’m lucky to have loyal family and friends.
This fall is starting to be much more enjoyable.