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Dubird

'Textual harassment': An ugly, invisible new stalking method

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http://www.philly.com/inquirer/image/20090311_Textual_harassment_An_ugly_invisible_new_stalking_method.html

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The college student had endured months of online and cell-phone harassment from her ex-boyfriend. She ignored the barrage of e-mails, changed her phone number, and dismantled online profiles to cut him off.

Then one evening, her cell phone signaled a new text message. It was him again.

"You should keep to yourself and stay away from other people," the message said, according to the student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she feared for her safety. Her ex had found her photo online and attached it.

As text messaging has boomed in recent years, it has also given rise to so-called textual harassment. Text messages antagonize recipients in a way that is not easily ignored: Most people are never far from their cell phones, and the gadgets tend to blink and chirp until unopened messages are acknowledged. Adding further sting, victims are often charged by their cell-phone companies for receiving the messages.

A study of stalking by the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics released last month confirmed that stalking by texting has become a pervasive problem.

The report found that in 2006, 23 percent of stalking or harassment victims reported that the stalker had used some form of cyberstalking, such as cell-phone texting or e-mail, to harass them. It was the agency's first measure of the emerging practice, said Katrina Baum, one of the study's authors.

"Technology has become a quick and easy way for stalkers to monitor and harass their victims," the report said.

And unless calling plans include unlimited texting, recipients are charged an average of 20 cents for each message sent or received, wanted or not.

"I was paying to be harassed, which is a lot of fun," the victimized college student said.

Providers including Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint say they are willing to work with customers who are charged for unwanted messages.

Verizon Wireless handled 90 billion text messages in the last quarter of 2008 alone, more than double the number during the same period a year earlier. AT&T customers sent nearly 80 billion texts in the quarter. Sprint customers sent 41 billion in the third quarter of 2008.

Having a device deliver a message tends to embolden people and provides a sense of anonymity, even when the messages can be tracked to a sender, said Jayne Hitchcock, president of the volunteer organization WHOA, Working to Halt Online Abuse.

"They would never do this to someone in person," Hitchcock said, "yet they use the faceless avenue of cell phones, their computers, or home/office phones to perpetrate the harassment."

States have scrambled to react to the new threat. Forty-six states now have anti-stalking laws that refer to electronic forms of communication, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Only four states - Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Washington - explicitly name text messaging, but laws that are less specific may also be applied to text harassment.

Last year in New York's Kings County Court, a defendant was accused of sending six threatening text messages to a woman during a 17-hour period. The messages said that the defendant was outside the woman's house and that she would end up in the hospital.

The defendant tried to get aggravated harassment charges thrown out by arguing that text messages were not as serious as phone calls or letters and were not covered by state law, but the court disagreed.

Technological developments "along with their many benefits, bring with them ever greater potential for abuse," the court wrote.

The college student said she walked the rest of the way home that first night her ex texted her with the uncomfortable feeling that he might be crouching in the bushes, even though she knew he lived several states away.

The texts and e-mails kept coming for more than a year, and ranged from innocuous appeals for contact to disturbing insinuations of violence. The contact stopped in December, when the man messaged her that he had found someone else.

Customers who feel threatened are advised to call law enforcers, who can then contact the provider to identify the sender.

A Web site sponsored by the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the Ad Council, and the Office on Violence Against Women offers a textual-harassment forum where teenagers trade advice and experiences with overzealous or unwanted texting.

The site, www.thatsnotcool.com, also has e-mailable reply "callout cards" that offer a lighter approach to resolve what could be a serious problem, with messages including "You're much more attractive when you're not textually harassing me" and "Thanks for helping me exceed my text message limit."

Just something I thought I'd pass along, espically since it mentions that most states have laws against this now.


Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints!

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:huh: ... So they don't have an "Ignore List" for text messaging?


"Cool. I always knew Atheists would someday save The World."

- Fantomex

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Seems to me you CAN block certain numbers and/or contacts in a phone list...but that isn't really going to stop somone who is that demented. They'd just keep borrowing friend's phones or changing the number for theirs to keep doing it. I actually had someone do that with an AIM account to talk to me, he'd use his friend's account then make more and more as I blocked them to keep chatting with me...


[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]I are me.

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Seems to me you CAN block certain numbers and/or contacts in a phone list...but that isn't really going to stop somone who is that demented. They'd just keep borrowing friend's phones or changing the number for theirs to keep doing it. I actually had someone do that with an AIM account to talk to me, he'd use his friend's account then make more and more as I blocked them to keep chatting with me...

That's why theres an option in most IM clients that allows you to block everyone except the people on your buddy list.

As for the article, the web is becoming a cesspool of private information. Teens upload photos and post private info like their phone number and address like it's nothing. Myspace and Facebook are prime examples of how kids have a false sense of security and post private things without thinking.

Take a look at http://www.pipl.com/ and http://www.yoname.com/ . There both sites that make it easy to find private info on a person that they themselves have made public.

I think if Teens and young adults payed a little more mind to what they make public they wouldn't run into things like stalkers.


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That's why theres an option in most IM clients that allows you to block everyone except the people on your buddy list.

As for the article, the web is becoming a cesspool of private information. Teens upload photos and post private info like their phone number and address like it's nothing. Myspace and Facebook are prime examples of how kids have a false sense of security and post private things without thinking.

Take a look at http://www.pipl.com/ and http://www.yoname.com/ . There both sites that make it easy to find private info on a person that they themselves have made public.

I think if Teens and young adults payed a little more mind to what they make public they wouldn't run into things like stalkers.

:noway:

I wasn't disturbed by yoname until I used Public Records Search. Although not completley accurate I found me twice. One where all the basic info was right, but didn't have my current city. And the other where it did have my current city, but not my age.

Name wise, Pipl asked for too much info... User name wise, I had a little more fun looking at some old postings. Phone wise it doesn't matter as I'll be canceling my phone anyway.


"Cool. I always knew Atheists would someday save The World."

- Fantomex

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wow. well it's good that they're making actual laws so people can't weasel out of shit like that in court.

i searched myself on those websites. i only came up on one and it was my myspace and facebook which really don't have much information on there besides my name, state, and interests. the "yoname" site didn't even have me in the results, but ive always been conscience of what kind of information i put up. i can't say the same for my friends and i've always pointed it out that they put up a lot of information making it REALLY easy to find them. they don't seem phased though


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That's why theres an option in most IM clients that allows you to block everyone except the people on your buddy list.

As for the article, the web is becoming a cesspool of private information. Teens upload photos and post private info like their phone number and address like it's nothing. Myspace and Facebook are prime examples of how kids have a false sense of security and post private things without thinking.

Take a look at http://www.pipl.com/ and http://www.yoname.com/ . There both sites that make it easy to find private info on a person that they themselves have made public.

I think if Teens and young adults payed a little more mind to what they make public they wouldn't run into things like stalkers.

Getting stalked doesn't mean someone let out a bunch of info on the web. Could be an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who can't let go. In fact, that's probally most of the stalkers of this kind. Not that people shouldn't be careful what they put online. Very few people I know online know my real name, and I don't put it on anything online.


Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints!

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Getting stalked doesn't mean someone let out a bunch of info on the web. Could be an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend who can't let go. In fact, that's probally most of the stalkers of this kind. Not that people shouldn't be careful what they put online. Very few people I know online know my real name, and I don't put it on anything online.

:huh: Your name isn't really Dubird?!?!?!?!?!


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That's why theres an option in most IM clients that allows you to block everyone except the people on your buddy list.

As for the article, the web is becoming a cesspool of private information. Teens upload photos and post private info like their phone number and address like it's nothing. Myspace and Facebook are prime examples of how kids have a false sense of security and post private things without thinking.

Take a look at http://www.pipl.com/ and http://www.yoname.com/ . There both sites that make it easy to find private info on a person that they themselves have made public.

I think if Teens and young adults payed a little more mind to what they make public they wouldn't run into things like stalkers.

That's true but at the time I was still really new to IM in general and didn't know about that option until much later. I also agree that people need to be more careful about what they put up on the net. Not just teens and young adults but everyone.


[sIGPIC][/sIGPIC]I are me.

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This shit is way to weird wtf!!! I found way too much info on those sites. They should be illegal

the sites shouldn't be illegal, they merely find all of the information about you that is already out, in public, on the internet. if you found too much info about yourself, i suggest going through and either make things like profiles private, or delete some of the info on the sites they found in their search


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:shocked:

Intelius even found info on my parents. Never known my mom to use the Internet other than some online shopping in our previous town. And my dad is incapable of using a computer. Couldn't find any info on my sister.


"Cool. I always knew Atheists would someday save The World."

- Fantomex

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Intellus searches public records, not the internet. Anything that goes into a large database that can be accessed remotely can be searched like that. Intellus just does it for you.


Yesterday was the deadline for all complaints!

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this is why I set my shit to private :rolleyes:


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