Many years ago, I wrote a piece for my local newspaper on the terrors of being stalked. The article required extensive research including an interview with a psychologist who had completed a study on stalking. Her advice on the issue was absolute: no matter how times they contact you, never engage. Her words still ring out in my head, “ignore, ignore, ignore”, and report to the authorities.
This week I experienced my own unpleasant incident. Somebody copied my profile picture and bio. and impersonated me on Twitter, sending tweets out to my friends. They used a different user name, but how many of us notice that when we receive a note from one of our tweeps? The details are now under investigation by Twitter. I can only assume that this was a potential spammer, but the incident has left a pithy taste in my mouth.
It is strange in life, when everything happens at once. I remember years ago, when I first started to read the Harry Potter novels, thinking what an unusual name ‘Hermione’ was. The following week I watched a film starring British actress Hermione Norris, then a few days later was introduced to a new representative named Hermione, through my professional capacity at work.
This has also been a week of those little co-incidences. Only the other day, a friend on Twitter told me her account had actually been compromised and the infiltrator had sent nasty direct messages (personal messages) out to her followers, which looked as though they had been sent by herself. Then, this morning, I received an email from another friend who advised that his email account had been hacked. He was contacting the whole of his address book, a laborious task, advising them to ignore any messages received within the last 24 hours.
Fortunately, we have all taken action to report these incidents and our friends in cyberspace have been wonderfully supportive. These are events that could happen to anyone, after all. But it does beg the question – what do spammers hope to gain from this sort of malicious behaviour? If they think it is going to encourage us to click on their links and buy their products, they are seriously mistaken. These actions will only serve to make us more likely to block them forever.
It is such a shame that a small group of people can taint the wonderfully supportive and friendly world of social media. For my part, I will be extra vigilant from now on. And I can’t help but think back to the psychologist’s advice, “ignore, ignore, ignore”, and report to the authorities. If we all follow this, hopefully, one day they’ll give up…