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Home/Rod Dreher/How To Stalk Someone Via Facebook

How To Stalk Someone Via Facebook

Jerri Kelley Phillips learned some things via Facebook, and they’re pretty shocking, at least to me. She’s going through a security sweep of her house because a registered sex offender (pedophile) next door made some creepy comments to her about what he knows about her and her kids (“Oh, I see you. You don’t see me, but I see you. Even when you’re are sleeping, I see you.”). As part of the process, the investigator asked her to examine her online presence to see if there are any “holes” through which predators could gain information about her kids. And this is where Facebook comes in. Excerpt:

A few months ago I hurt someone’s feeling by deleting her post where she asked about my kids by name. I explained publicly that I do not use their names on Facebook or other media because of issues that arose after their dad died. Most people were very supportive. A few seemed to think I was being overly protective and needed to chill.
So, now that I look a big wiser, let’s review why I take the precautions I do again.

Let me give you an example of what someone can do with Facebook.

I randomly wandered through my friend’s friends lists, and I picked people at random and wandered their pages. If I could, I wandered their friends’ lists. In 9 out of 10 tries, their posts and information were wide open for anyone who wanted it, so I looked. Let me tell you a bit of what I found out.

One young lady in her 20s was married last year. I know where she got married, where she went to college, what she does for a living, and because she posted the picture of her lovely car, I was able to get her address by running the plates. Oh, and I know her husband travels often with this job. In fact, she posts regularly when he is gone. I also know she is anti-firearms, and they have a cat but no dogs.

Does it get any easier than that? I mean, really?

Then I checked my “do you know this person” feed. This is a man I have no contact with, no mutual friends with, but because he is in an area where a cluster of my friends are, he showed up as a “do you know him”. I didn’t, but I do now.

I know he has two sons. Both of which are in little league. I know is dating a lovely lady, and from the posts, it is getting serious. I know where he works, where he went to school, his employment history. I know on Friday nights when he doesn’t have the kids, he and the GF have a particular bar they like to visit and stay at until well after 11:00. I also know he is working on a bike that he is either restoring or fixing in his garage. He posted a picture of it…that also showed the other three that he custom did. Oh, speaking of pictures. His sons are DARLING!!!! And you know what, now that I’ve read through all his check-ins and know his routines and his favorite sports team, I bet if I met one of those precious little guys, I could give them enough information to convince them that I know their daddy really well and something has happened and he needs me to take them to him.

Hit a nerve there? I hope so.

But the one I really liked was the mom who was evidently was trying to make an embarrassing point by posting the pictures of her teenage daughter…in the cheerleader outfit, in her pajamas, in the belly top and daisy dukes, in the tank with the bra showing and the shorts showy her rosy cheeks. Get the picture yet?

Obviously that mother was trying to make a point, and if a sexual predator ran across those, I can promise you a point was made, and do I need to tell you what that predator was doing with that point while he stared at pictures of her teenage baby? Follow me?

Disgusted? Me too. In fact, if I had been friends with that momma, I probably wouldn’t have been when I was done telling her just what I thought of those pictures and the obvious fact her daughter’s lack of maturity and character is clearly directly inherited from her mother. As it was, I couldn’t say anything without seeming…creepy, so I just wandered back to my Facebook page and ventured down someone else’s friends list.

Oh, and by the way, I did all of this—easily more than a dozen accounts—in a few hours.

Let me tell you what I looked for.

Please, especially if you have kids, read the whole thing. And read her first follow-up, about how you can use Facebook while protecting your safety and privacy. Then read her second follow-up. Her advice is common sense and non-paranoid, but to tell the truth, more than half that stuff I had never even thought about.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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