I wasn't sure what I was going to end up blogging about today. I haven’t been too concerned as I am leaving work at 4 (yippee) and I have been blogging like a mo’ fo’ lately anyway, but then I stumbled upon a blog post by someone I follow on Twitter that really caught my attention.
Everyone reading this is probably reading it due to social media. I post a blog and then I tweet the link or I put it as my facebook status encouraging people to log on and read it. I try to be careful with my Facebook, but probably to my detriment i’m not as careful on Twitter. My private Facebook account is strictly kept for people I know through old jobs, childhood friends or current friends and family. If you are not my friend on Facebook then you can’t see anything other than my current profile picture. Twitter is different, and it’s probably not a good thing. There are a lot more randoms on Twitter. I have over 1,000 followers now and I never really think about it that much, but they could literally be ANYONE. I have been careful to not disclose my real full name on Twitter, but to be fair I probably haven’t done enough to keep my identity private. I have my profile picture as a real picture of me. I have links to my blog that is covered in pictures of me with my real friends. I tweet about what train station i’m at, what venue I am going to that night. The only thing I have never done is disclosed my work place to my followers, or the name of my company. Again, this isn’t for any other reason than if current or prospective employers were to try and find me they would only have my real name, and therefore my Twitter account and blog wouldn’t appear. Hopefully.
So, browsing my Twitter timeline today, I stumbled across a tweet from @the3rdgirl promoting her blog. In there I found a blog post explaining why she was deleting her Twitter account and taking some time out from it, posted about a month ago. Her post is explaining the various reasons, but partly calling out the internet ‘trolls’ she had the misfortune of experiencing in the weeks leading up to this post. I can’t say I blame her for taking a break, but I am pleased to say she is back. While reading her blog post she directed links to two other blogs, one detailing serious experiences of stalking and another that advertises the frankly brilliant Twitter account set up to track worrying or obsessive tweeters contacting vulnerable people, and a bad experience with one tweeter that lead to it's creation.
I’ll start with GrumpyHatLady’s blog, which you can read here. (I’m aware that all 3 of these people are concerned with their online security, so I have contacted them all to check they are ok with me linking their twitter accounts and blogs here). I read the whole thing and was frankly AMAZED at what she had gone through at the hands of a stalker, but unfortunately I was not shocked. Unfortunately her stalking experience ended up consuming much more of her life than just on the internet, but it doesn’t take a genius to work out that you might have some sort of weirdo following you on Twitter, someone that isn’t just up for a chat or a discussion about a random topic. This poor lady had been stalked before when she was 15 and then experienced this twice more further down the line, and the worst case was because her stalker found her on the internet. This wasn't because she was giving away her details enabling him to find her, but he was persistent and ended up using the internet against her, to find out all of her personal information. She goes on to say this is why she doesn’t have a facebook, use LinkedIn and doesn’t reveal her real name or any details about herself on the internet. She explains this isn’t because she’s got something to hide, but just a matter of preference, to protect herself from any sort of trouble she might get just for the sake of telling someone her name.
The second blog, ‘The Blog That Peter Wrote’ unveils the disgusting behaviour of a tweeter called BertieWWooster, and you can read it here. BertieWWooster sounds like your average troll, gaining trust from women on the internet, stepping things up a notch by trying to get them to engage in ‘cybersex’ or the like, and then turns nasty when they decline. He has claimed all sorts of ludicrous things, from having contacts within the FBI to knowing someone’s full house address, work address, name, phone number etc. Peter launched a campaign against this guy and at the very bottom of this blog post states that through his hard work he has managed to get all 4 of these rogue accounts deleted (BertieWWooster was only 1 of 4 accounts this guy used to terrorise people).
Reading both of these posts, you might think that the experience @the3rdgirl had was a bit tame. Fair enough, it might have not been full on stalker mode like @TheGrumpyHatLady, but it was still bullying and I just do NOT understand why you would bother to do that online? Most people have a Twitter account because they want to socialise, but there are some people that sign up just to verbally attack people that have done nothing wrong, and 9 times out of 10 haven’t come into contact with this troll through any fault of their own? I will forever fail to see the point in that and can only come to the conclusion that the people that do this have underlying 'issues'.
Anyway, I wanted to blog about this because although I personally have never experienced anything of this sort (and I think I would be totally petrified if I did), their blog posts have totally made me think long and hard about my ‘online life’. I have never had a stalker but there was 1 guy on Twitter who started off sweet and lovely and I spoke to him a lot, but as the months passed he got weirder and weirder and kept DMing me saying he wanted to meet me etc. It got to the point where I panicked and basically found an excuse to unfollow him without trying to wind him up (next to impossible). After that I was left alone so he wasn’t a major threat but even experiencing that made me feel uncomfortable when I logged on.
We all hear the news stories about there being bad people online and the things we should do to prevent ourselves getting caught up in any sort of online trouble, but if you are anything like me you don’t really think of it that much. It's always one of those “it’ll never happen to me” situations. After reading these blogs I went onto Facebook and double checked my security settings. I then logged out and checked what my account looked like to someone that wasn’t friends with me. I checked my Twitter information, and I went and amended my ‘about me’ section on this blog. All that’s left for me to do now is make sure I am careful with the things I tweet to people and blog about. I'm not saying you have to suddenly be suspiciouis of everyone on Twitter, but where they might seem really nice and friendly, you never atually know what goes on behind closed doors, or people’s computer screens. Keep your personal information safe, and just be wary of people.
I would just like to congratulate Peter (@PME200) for sharking out the bad eggs on Twitter and working that little bit harder to make everyone feel safe. I’m glad @GrumpyHatLady is now clear of any trouble and is looking after herself online, and i’d also like to express my pleasure that @the3rdgirl is back on Twitter and enjoying herself. The account Peter set up to warn women of Bertie is @SexPestWarning. I have linked their Twitter accounts here so if you would like to contact them regarding their blogs or experiences you are able to. Clearly no trolls allowed.