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Xavier Belvemont

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Do we need stricter cyber-stalking and cyber-bullying and virtual hate speech laws?

Here is the situation that finally spurred me into making this topic..

Very recently it became apparent that I was infact the victim of an online-stalker.
A certain female who I barely remember conversing with approximately a year ago decided to spend the entire time since we ceased talking to making half a dozen fake profiles on a particular relationship website with varying pictures,names and descriptions and had been contacting me pretending to be these women over the course of the entire year, one at a time, some of which I was talking to for months on end.

Just prior to meeting (after 2 months of unknowingly falling for the final fake account), she suddenly admitted the truth of the situation and I immediately contacted the Police, even more cause for concern that she had apparently told me because she supposedly now liked me even more than what originally led to her current behavior.

This is where the sheer lack of a legal-force on this matter become clear..
Despite having direct evidence of her ownership of the profiles, emails where she knowingly posted me fake images, date and time history taking back 10 months ago and her admission in emails and texts, it seemed the police could do nothing about it..

Legal proceedings couldn't take place, the police could not consider it a crime and the police were not legally obliged to even provide a warning to her.
Even though it appears she has since gone, there is incredibly little to make her actions an official offence even if she repeats the above, requiring me to be far more vigilant and sceptical of everyone I talk to than one should be required to be.


So this ofcourse brings up the question, should the acts of cyber stalking, (and cyber bullying and hate speech) be more legally offensive than what they currently are?
Should such virtual actions be treated equal to physical or verbal?

If yes or no, explain why.
Thankyou.

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    Dec 31 2012: I agree with Krisztian that I would contact whoever runs that website. I would likely inquire (so as to understand better) why they are set up so as to allow people to participate under multiple identities from the same address and tell them that it has substantially reduced the value to you of participating in their site.

    If they do not give you an answer that is satisfactory to you, I would take your business elsewhere and in choosing your next site find out in advance whether they control such uses.

    I am not computer savvy in the way some others here are, but I really do not understand why allowing people to register several identities from the same address offers a customer benefit that increases the value of a typical site relative to a policy that offers only one registration at a given address. I can understand why it is potentially valuable for online games but not otherwise.

    This then leads me to wonder whether the marginal cost of such a rule of business (in terms of the resources required to implement it) exceeds the reduction in the gross value of the product offering.
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    Dec 31 2012: the logic behind that is fascinating. you contacted the police, and they simply refused to cooperate, despite it is obvious that some laws might be violated. and your first thought is to give more power to the state. it is certainly helpful. i mean, they screwed it up many times, so sooner or later they have to, out of sheer luck, succeed for once.

    instead of this, i would write to the ISP and the maintainer of said website. i would probably also inform people how reliable profiles are on that website, and that there is no effort whatsoever taken to combat such activities. if it is okay to people, then it is okay. likewise, TED makes little to no effort to filter troll accounts. i don't like it, so i call them out for that. but since they don't seem to care, and other members don't seem to care either, i have no other choice than accept it or leave.

    however i fail to see what is the harm here. if you accept being contacted by a stranger you never met, and you don't know anything about other than a made up name, made up intro, possibly made up photo, why would it be a harm to be contacted by the same person under multiple names? and if you want some "quality control", why don't you go to places where there is some quality control? you opt for the uncontrolled free option, then complain for the lack of quality.

    the internet is a new place. we need to learn how to navigate it. such problems are in fact unavoidable, and in a sense good, as through them, we learn the risks and dangers, and service providers can come up with solutions. but to do this, i believe the free-to-use model should go. imagine a website you pay $20 per year for, and they have your real name and credit card number. how many trolls and fakes would be on that site?
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      Dec 31 2012: Its interesting that you say the logic of my thread is fascinating, because your comment is more so..

      'you contacted the police, and they simply refused to cooperate, despite it is obvious that some laws might be violated. and your first thought is to give more power to the state. '

      That isn't what I argued. What I argued was that there are no legitimate laws on this subject. Had a similar occurence taken place in real life it would be a serious legal matter, but doing this online, even with admission of guilt, apparently isn't something for the police to deal with at all. Thats the issue --There are no laws to act on, not even enough to provide a warning to cease and desist.

      --

      "if you accept being contacted by a stranger you never met, and you don't know anything about other than a made up name, made up intro, possibly made up photo, why would it be a harm to be contacted by the same person under multiple names?"

      Again, you seem to have misunderstood the point. The objective is to MEET people, in particular, those you WANT to meet. So finding out that 1/3 of all your contacts over a long period of time was actually just one person who you don't want to be in contact with, is obviously not an acceptable outcome.
      Either that or maybe you should give your ex's a call when they've dyed their hair and recycle previous relationships for a few decades, seeing as you might not see it to be an issue..

      Bedies that, I agree with the rest and have contacted the site, providing the details of said person to have them permenently I.P blocked or something of that nature.
      Atleast the police had the decently to record the incident and provide a code to verify that the website should indeed do as I asked.
      Progress, although limited.
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        Dec 31 2012: "there are no legitimate laws on this subject"

        at least the police told you so. of course it is not true, as you later pointed out, in the "real" world, it would be a legal matter. the internet is just as real, so the same law applies. but police does not want to work, so they send you away. it is a total failure on the part of the state. as you might expect.

        " The objective is to MEET people, in particular, those you WANT"

        no websites can offer such service. websites can offer different kinds of service, yours seem to offer "everything under the sun". and this is exactly what you got. they did not offer any filtering, you got no filtering. you walked into a shop and said "give me anything", and now you complain about the product. next time walk into a store with some quality assurance. next time, be more careful.

        btw i wonder how did we manage to get into this mindset. any harm happens, out of pure recklessness, lack of responsibility or any sort of effort to achieve success, we call for government interference. we buy crap, without looking, from companies we don't know, and then want the government to cover our back. what kind of childish thinking is that? for how long daddy has to take care of us? is that a 1st world problem? or the entire world is this infantile?
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    Dec 31 2012: She must of been good Xavier to fool your signature txt and grammar sense.

    Most normal humans write and txt and type with a definite personal signature, I only came to this observation by noticing my own penchant for numbers mixed with words and set out to see if others did too. What i've found is that we also put into our written communication, personality though most times it doesn't register if potential respondents are invested emotionally in content you have written on.

    Obviously from what you have supplied is that the woman in question has had a serious security issue with online potential male partners with a view to a relationship. It's a bit overkill bordering on sociopathic, it would be understandable if she had suckered you with only one other profile but several?

    I'm sorry mate but the police are right, they can't do a thing but then one should not put all of themselves online shouldn't they? If your country starts putting laws in place then expect other laws to follow that you might not like.

    Be a man, go and have a meet and greet at a cafe with her to put to rest the burning. She's either a stalker or a swan with a broken wing but you can't say you can't defend yourself in a public place unless you are a tetraplegic.

    I don't mean to be offensive but a meet and greet is usually a must within 6 months unless you are a mature person. Oh by the way, I can't back anything i have said up with evidence.
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      Dec 31 2012: 'Oh by the way, I can't back anything i have said up with evidence.'

      A number of assumptions here too.. Well firstly..

      1. The woman in question was someone I first came into contact with a year earlier for an extremely short period of time, I had no recollection of her until she explained who she was.

      2. Secondly. All of the encounters with the fake profiles lasted for *upto* 2 months at a time and not above, inwhich distance/timing was either a factor on my part and/or a relatively convincing excuse not to meet was provided.
      I was meeting other women during certain times, some of which also cancelled and rescheduled on occasion, so a cancellation or needing longer before meeting didn't appear to be an issue.

      3. Each profile had wildly varying details, locations, pictures and backstory.
      In a country where most people use the same abbreviations and simplified language, I would be willing to bet all the money in my account that you yourself wouldn't pick up on it, especially the idea that its coming from a woman you don't even remember ever talking to in the first place.
      "...I only came to this observation by noticing ..."
      Exactly my point.

      4. "I'm sorry mate but the police are right, they can't do a thing but then one should not put all of themselves online shouldn't they? "
      Who said they did?

      5. "Be a man, go and have a meet and greet at a cafe with her to put to rest the burning. She's either a stalker or a swan with a broken wing but you can't say you can't defend yourself"

      Its not about defending myself. much to the contrary, she defended herself by not showing up in person, but my argument stands that if someone can be evidently proven to act in a way online that would lead to an arrest in real life, why is there no legal stance on the matter at all.
      An admission of stalking someone constantly for a year online should equate to atleast something,
      also 'be a man' is an interesting phrase.
      Had roles in this situation been reversed...
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        Dec 31 2012: Brilliant break down Xavier.

        We do have txt signatures peculiar to ourselves,. You just have to observe how your family and friends txt to you unless this person txts short one liners. She didn't defend herself by not showing up, if a person truly is set upon another then they would show up and apologize and lay it all on the deck.

        Do you know what it's like to be trolled for not having a profile? It makes you realize that we tend to assume a lot about someone we don't actually know at all. I felt this for the first time from a fellow tedster, it was quite shocking the innuendo that was implied, this person never asked why so i did the next best thing and bade her a good day very politely but i wouldn't report them even if this person stalked me and complained to TED. With your case i would suggest swapping a live video conversation with all prospective friends at least twice.

        If we start laying laws online then we will eventually lay others on as well.
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          Dec 31 2012: Ken, I wouldn't assume that an accuser truly believes the innuendo he/she puts forward. This can as well be a strategy to bully a private person to disclose information the bully wants for his own purposes or to create a negative image of the person to some public, again for the bully's purpose.

          There are so many reasons to maintain privacy online. If someone is not behaving in a trolling manner, I know I would assume a private person has one of the many legitimate reasons not to put private information out there for others to use.

          There will always be those bent on "outing' other people rather than respecting their privacy.