Readers may be interested in this story of how one man tracked down an online (and real life) harasser.
I didn’t mention it to my wife. Didn’t see the point of worrying her. But then she joined Twitter to see what it was like and grew to enjoy it. It wouldn’t have been immediately obvious to outsiders that we were man and wife. She made the mistake though of changing her profile to state that she was ‘The long suffering wife of @LeoTraynor’. Not a good idea. She received a DM stating ‘Your husband is scum. A rotten b*stard and you’re a wh*re.‘ She laughed it off. Blocked and reported and then the pattern started again. We got to the point of not accepting new followers at all and then one day my wife received a torrent of abuse via DM and on the timeline that was so vile she’s never been on Twitter since – which is a real shame as she has so much to share and is far more interesting than I am.
People kept asking me ‘Why you? Why would these guys want to have a go at you?’ I couldn’t answer them other than it was a couple of random nutters who didn’t appreciate my political views or ethnic origins. Or even someone who couldn’t solve my cryptic crosswords!
The whole thing escalated in June, July and August this year. I received more and more abuse on the timeline and via DMs. A crossword clue account I’d started (@Leo’sClue) was inundated with abuse too.
Then one day something happened that truly frightened me. I don’t scare easily but this was vile.
I received a parcel at my home address. Nothing unusual there – I get a lots of post. I ripped it open and there was a tupperware lunchbox inside full of ashes. There was a note included ‘Say hello to your relatives from Auschwitz‘ I was physically sick.
I was petrified.
They had my address.
I reported it to the authorities and hoped for the best.
Two days later I opened my front door and there was a bunch of dead flowers with my wife’s old Twitter username on it. Then that night I recieved a DM. ‘You’ll get home some day & ur b**ches throat will be cut & ur son will be gone.‘
I got on to the authorities again but, polite and sympathetic as they were, there didn’t seem much that could be done.
Eventually he did discover who his stalker was.
The thing that concerns me is how often the police are completely unwilling to act in these cases. This guy (who seems to be in Ireland) got a friend to track down the kid – using legal means. Why could the police not use those means? What is it about law enforcement that means they can only track down someone who is acting in the real world?
The other disturbing thing is how people don’t seem to care how they act online. I can understand being a little more free in one’s criticism, or calling a public figure (politicians especially!) stupid, but why do so many people see fit to be so abusive towards random strangers you know are real people?
Hat Tip: Patterico.