Cyber Harassment and accountability...
I have written about this topic before because it is a personal issue. For the past four years I have struggled with a person who became so obsessed with me that she would create false posts, web pages and put pictures of my home, family and random items then link them with my address, legal name, etc...she researched and discovered enough about my personal history to add details to make it seem she had a personal relationship with me and to try to give her stories more credibility. All this in an attempt to harass, defame and tarnish my reputation. This is not just a "kids" issue. There are more laws that protect children in this area than adults but the fact remains that there are adult bullies, harassment, and stalkers.
My issue began when I started a neighborhood group, she imediately contacted me stating that I needed to cancel my group and planned event because I was stealing her idea. Yes, this woman has issues. I shrugged it off and invited her to join the fun. Little did I know that small event would open the door to a night mare.
I have had to work with Facebook, YouTube, Squidoo and most recently Google+ to have items removed.
We moved from the neighborhood and away from the neighbor and were happy to go! It worked out that my husband had a new job offer with a promotion and the company wanted to relocate us. So, we moved. You would think it would have stopped there.
No, it did not. After we moved the woman kept posting things. She made up stories, and photo shopped images accusing me of stealing her pictures, of stalking her! She accused me of doing all sorts of wild and crazy things and non of it provable accept with her altered images and made up text. Which she would then link wiht our former neighborhood name, pictures of our home, of me, of my children and tag it with personal and identifying information. After all everything on the internet has to be true, right?!
She even found out the name of people in our past and created fake profiles using their names. Fortunately there are a few laws out there and a way for a person to prove their identity when an account is a fake profile.
We contacted the real person whose name was used for the fake profiles and they were able to contact the site in this case Google plus and have the fake profile deleted.
We were able to report the harassing photos, posts and profile and after weeks of sending a weekly report we Google deleted not only the pictures and posts but the whole profiles! Which was terrific.
We have had to go through a similar process with Facebook, YouTube and Squidoo. I will say it took longer to have the information removed with Google than with any other provider.
I know it is because of free speech. Also, a lot of cyber bully and harassment laws are directed to protect children and don't apply to adults. You have to be patient work with the system. Know the sites policies and accepted practices. What is against their rules and then what state or federal laws may be out there to help. Know your information and submit it clearly and factually. Try not to react emotionally. Take screen shots of all the materials. Then report them.
Remember it may take 4-6 days for a provider to react to the material. Sometimes you may have to report more than once. Be patient and consistent.
Don't ignore it and don't be fooled that Cyber harassment is just a child or teen thing.
Be responsible and treat the right to Freedom of Speech with respect.