Friday, 14 March 2014

Dealing with an online Facebook stalker


I know.

This isn't my "normal" post material. But I DO think it is important to share with you all, on the basis of learning about individual privacy and how to protect it. For everyone and especially fellow mom / mum bloggers who may be reading this blog. Someone has to be reading it, right?!!!! You may not even think it applies to you or has relevance. But it does. I felt the same as you: that this shit doesn't happen to me. If it IS happening to you, or someone you love...I can't stress enough: Get IMMEDIATE help and advice.

I have been dealing with, although "dealing" is a strong word and not entirely accurate. I have "coped" is a better description. I have had / still have an online stalker since 2011. I knew this person, I met them in real life. My stalker has got more IT savvy as the years have gone on, but he is still a twat.

Unfortunately being a twat does not automatically ban you from using the internet. Twats can use it. And cause great harm. End of the day though, they are still twats and they will mess up eventually. It just will take time, patience and a bit of work.

I wanted to share this post mainly because I have learnt some things I wanted to let you know about. Quite frankly I am sick to death of how many times I am asked "How do you know it is him?" or the times I let things slide because I thought he would give up. You know..... get bored and maybe get a REAL life.

It's the same with internet trolls. You think they might get bored.

Stalkers are one thing and trolls are another. But NEVER feed either. YOU are worth more than that.

1. Seek help and advice IMMEDIATELY. And I totally mean that. I waited three years of my stalker's up and down stalking routine before I sought help. You know what I was told when I did? I quote: " We cannot believe you waited so long to tell us." TELL someone now. In particular law enforcement. Don't wait to "get proof" or "build up evidence." You are just wasting time and losing evidence.

2. NEVER think they will get bored and move on. You are underestimating how crap their life is. They have NOTHING better to do. Their life, no matter how crap yours may seem at the time, is infinitely worse. Or they wouldn't be bothering with you. Remember that. ALWAYS. That is the number one mantra that should be going through your head. Their life is worse than yours. Their life is worse than yours. Don't feel sorry for them though. They MADE that happen. You didn't. You are better than them.

3. DO NOT EVER try and "make sense" of it. There is no sense. They are up the wall barking mad. You are not. Do NOT give them hope, do NOT try and "be nice", DO NOT try and empathize, do not try and "defend your position." Do not try and reason. You are trying to reason with a mad person. Success rate at that? Zero.

If you break up with someone and you make it clear in a SINGLE message you do not want to be with them, that should be enough for some people. By the time you send message 2 about not contacting you, and they still do? They are breaking the law. Make it CLEAR and don't beat about the bush. Use both your names in the message, save it, screen shot it and date stamp it. If you don't know how to do this then ask Google. Different laptops have different settings but normally a combination of the prtsc key and alt can do it. Or take a picture with your phone of your laptop. Get the date and time from the right hand corner of your screen included in shot.


4. Online Stalking is ABUSE. They rely on you being too scared or concerned what people will think to report it. Or what they might do. Or who they might talk to,message and tell stuff to. Especially relevant if you have been in a relationship, but my stalker didn't care about that and tried to destroy virtual strangers businesses. I ALWAYS tell my children, who are becoming internet savvy: I don't care WHAT someone says they will do, why you should keep quiet, or what you have done, or what "evidence" they are using against you. Like we don't know what grown ups do?!!! Or like we would look. I accept what my children...or my best friend/ mother/ boyfriend says to me, or tells me they are being blackmailed with. WITHOUT question. I don't need to view the "evidence." The fact that someone thinks they have "something" against someone they can use to abuse them is enough for me to know. NORMAL people DONT DO THAT. I repeat: NORMAL PEOPLE DONT DO THAT.

5. TELL EVERYONE. Break the "circle of fear." Stalkers thrive on that. Generally stalkers "know" you. Or think they "know" you. But, guess what? YOU knew enough about THEM to not want them in your life. You do not have to go into detail, but tell people. Communication is key. If someone doesn't listen or understand, then they are twats who are putting you in DANGER. My stalker liked to Facebook friends request all my friends and family. Then friends of friends. Then anywhere I "liked."

The new Facebook upgrade that is being rolled out slowly means that, unless you start to seriously look at your privacy, that person will potentially be able to see and most importantly SEARCH DIRECTLY FOR:

a) your photos taken by you
b) pictures of you taken by others that you are tagged in
c) pictures that you have liked
d) pictures you have commented on
e) pictures of you that others have commented on
f) pictures your friends and you have commented on (or liked)
g) pictures of friends of yours
h) photos by friends of yours
I) photos your friends have liked
k) Your friends
l) friends of your friends

The list is pretty extensive. It goes on from there into what people who may know you/ your friends/or live LOCALLY have done. TELL EVERYONE you have a problem and ask them to close their friends list. Make sure you are not tagged. Dont comment on other photos. If a Facebook "friend" won't do that, then believe me, they are opening up their friend list to abuse by your stalker. Happened to me with my stepsister. An internet stalker will spend HOURS and DAYS friend requesting anyone in the hope they get to "mutual friend" status. I once worked my stalkers requests out roughly. And I don't have many friends, but that worked out to be about 6000 people he has interacted with, via friends of friends.

So.

Set your privacy levels to high.

Screenshot EVERYTHING. IMMEDIATELY. The second it happens.
(My stalker likes to friends request me from fake profiles, then write messages on the fake profile wall. Then delete them.)
When you screenshot try and get the url in the shot. Facebook need that number to prove where the account is coming from and once the investigation is under way they will be able to provide the police with every single bit of activity that took place from that account, plus the ISP addresses used.


Make sure your friends and family understand how to screenshot and what you need in a shot. You need your friends name visible and the stalkers profile, date and time. Screenshot any of the friends the stalker has managed to become friends with to show you are mutual friends, and the links back to you.

Report but DO NOT BLOCK them on Facebook. That may seem strange BUT your stalker wants to know you have seen it. They want to control you and force themselves into your life. If you block them they can't see your profile anymore. So they know they forced you to make an ACTION. So they will do it again, from a new profile. And again. And again. Much better to have them sat there wondering if you saw it or not.

You also want to be able to SEE their profile. That profile builds up your evidence. Screenshot and photo EVERYTHING. Work out the links between people he has requested and yourself. Look at the friends list on the fake profile. Do those people geographically link him to somewhere, via schools they went to, places they work?

Take photos of the stalkers real page, or copies of emails if you suspect who it is. Some stalkers will try and deny they have access to the internet. Make sure you keep emails if you had a relationship and note the TIME they were sent. My stalker likes to do his stuff between 10pm-2am but has also made the mistake of doing things on his REAL account during that time, or during a period of sustained abuse. I don't know of many 24hr internet cafes. And if I did, I bet the IP addresses, even if dynamic, will be coming from the same sources.

If you know where the real life stalker comes from, try searching on Google for the fake profile name with the same location. Your stalker is probably causing trouble to others as well. They may have mentioned it on THEIR page and left that public.

If you want to keep having profile pictures and cover photos on Facebook, as I do, make sure you remove comments or Likes from others. Or your stalker will have their names. Keep up with your admin and remove pictures from public view as a profile or cover picture when you change them. No point giving them more than YOU decide. To see how other people view your profile, go into your page on Facebook and click on the little down arrow on your cover photo. Next to activity log. Then select "view as."


Go to law enforcement NOW if you are having problems. I don't care if you think you seem silly. Or over reacting. Or melodramatic.

If you have a blog then set a site meter, you can track all IP addresses. Use Google analytics.

Make sure your friends protect their friends. Facebook should not be a number gathering exercise to prove how popular or liked you are. Protect your friends, family and identity. Check your friends list is PRIVATE.

Remember you are not to blame. It is abuse. And I know you know who it is doing it to you. I wouldn't need to ask you to prove it to me.


xx



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