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How to fight back against a cyberstalker

Stefan Hammond | Nov. 12, 2012
I have a new heroine, and her name is Carla Franklin.

I have a new heroine, and her name is Carla Franklin.

Franklin's story, detailed on Web site The Daily Beast as told to journalist Abigail Pesta, is an excellent read. It details how a competent young professional became a target of cyberstalking, how the legal system doesn't process the concept well and how she now uses that system to fight back against a potentially dangerous man who harassed her online and in-person.

Again: please read her entire story. It gives sharp perspective on real-world cyberwarfare on a personal level. It details how Franklin uncovered the man behind the harassment and what she did about it. She's now, as she puts it, "an anti-cybercrimes advocate"--one who appears on various media and worked as a legislative consultant with the New York Senate.

This isn't an isolated problem. Hong Kong needs a grassroots-level anti-cybercrimes advocate--there are women in Hong Kong who've experienced unwanted attention from people on the Net. Via Facebook, WhatsApp, e-mail, SMS or any of the communication-vectors we now enjoy, if there's someone who's pestering you, it's usually best to ignore them. Most people will take the hint.

But Franklin's story is about a man who didn't take the hint. Instead, he allegedly conducted a campaign of harassment primarily using the Net, a campaign that escalated from annoying to horrifying over its six-year span.

The short version: Franklin went on a few casual dates with a man she met at a networking mixer in a large city on the US East Coast. He was in an MBA program at a local university, and when she mentioned she was working on MBA applications, they agreed to meet at a later date. The type of thing professionals do constantly: building networks. That was the event's intent.

But after a few meetings, Franklin saw a different side to the man, one less-than-professional. As she put it: "When he started grilling me about other men, I suspected that he had peeked at my cellphone texts. We argued. We had been on just a few dates; we were not a couple--I hardly even knew him. I told him this wasn't going to work, and stopped communicating with him."

"Sporadic, obsessive bursts of emails, texts, and calls followed," she wrote, "to the point where I told him outright that we could not be friends, eventually changing my cellphone number." There was a time when you could change your phone number and change a stalker's dynamic. But with our new communication-vectors, it's just a blip.

Franklin was pushed to the wall by a potentially dangerous creep. She pushed back, and found out how hard that was in the current judicial system.

 

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