Encounters with an Online Stalker

It was traumatic.
By Vibhor Sharma
This happened a few years ago. I had recently joined Twitter.com with the hopes of making new friends, connecting with old ones, and also having the amazing opportunity of interacting with Indian and international celebrities, since, when Twitter came up, actors, politicians, writers, and personalities from various fields thought of making their presence felt on social media, and what better way was there than to hop on to Twitter and connect with an ever-burgeoning audience.
Encounters with an Online Stalker
I had started tweeting about my daily activities, school life, travel escapades, and just about anything and everything that popped up in my mind. Such is the fun of Twitter, where you have the utter freedom to post your thoughts on absolutely anything and see them splashed upon your profile for eternity (unless of course, you decide to delete them). By my regular tweeting every day, I was able to gather a decent number of followers of a few hundred. Surprised and elated, I loved this concept of having ‘followers’; regular, random people reading your each and every tweet, and if required even voicing their views in agreement or disagreement to what I felt. Twitter seemed like a cool tool to interact with three types of people – people I knew, those I didn’t know, and those I wanted to know.

It had been a year or two after I had joined Twitter when things started going downhill for me on this particular social media platform. In my follower’s list, there was a boy, a year or two younger than me, slightly effeminate in pictures, who came from one of the neighboring countries of India and was staying in Rajasthan, supposedly pursuing his education. At first, he would reply to my tweets to which I would politely reply, which would lead to a conversation. Sometimes, there would be agreements and at other times, tiny skirmishes based on the difference of opinions. There were other members on Twitter who wrote to me too, but this particular boy took exceptional interest in my tweets.

On random checking of his Twitter profile, I would see him talking about me and my views, which were voiced on things ranging from the serious to the mundane. He would criticize me using harsh language and would even ridicule me with his gang of friends. Sensing that this person is not fit for interaction anymore, I decided to block his account from my Twitter profile and not have him in my follower’s list. However, once I did this, I obliviously called for trouble!

Seeing that I had blocked him, this person became absolutely furious and uncontrollable. He started tweeting abusive things about me, my looks, and my thoughts, and even encouraged his gang of goondas to indulge in the same. Days, weeks and even months went by, but this boy never ceased tweeting hate about me on his profile. Feeling sick to the stomach with the hateful things that he would continuously tweet, I decided to make my Twitter account private. This provision gives access of my tweets to only those followers whom I approve of. Feeling at ease with this act of mine, I thought I had got rid of this rabid cyber monster.

But my happiness and calm was short-lived. When I randomly checked this boy’s profile one day, I saw him brutally dissecting my thoughts and views, on those particular tweets which were supposedly hidden in my profile. Shocked and bewildered, I wondered how this could have happened; only to realise with a rude shock, that this boy had created a few fake accounts with pictures of random girls and guys, and had gained access to my account, while clicking on the follow request tab on my profile. Naïve that I was, I had allowed access to all those accounts which had sought to become my followers, not realising that one or maybe more of these accounts could be that boy in disguise.

The decision

Troubled to see that this boy was rather rapidly becoming obsessed with me for reasons best known to him, and was furthermore spewing vicious hate directed at me – either  through his main profile or through the various fake accounts that he had created to gain access into my private Twitter profile – I decided to write to the Twitter authorities. However, to my immense disbelief, I found the US-based Twitter authorities entirely unhelpful and ignorant. While they did write back to me, what they suggested seemed futile, run of the mill, and thoroughly ineffective. They advised me to keep my profile private, change my password, block the troubling user etc – things which I had already done months ago. When I again wrote back to them to take action against this abusive, hateful and stalker-like person, they didn’t respond, or the last I remember, again sent me the same advisory with the above- mentioned tips and tricks.

Some months went by. By this time I had achieved success in eradicating via blocking, all the fake, unknown profiles that existed in my followers list. The followers that I had, were people I either knew, or were accounts of companies, brands, and other promotional agencies and so on. However, the boy and his shenanigans hadn’t changed one bit. Seeing that he now had zero access to my tweets and profile, he took his hatemongering tweeting about me to a whole new level. Sexual remarks, threats, racial slurs, he indulged in them all. And the worst fact about these acts was that he actually enjoyed himself while he tweeted such venom and entertained his gang of goons, who, in return, wrote ample amounts of negativity which could make anyone lose their sanity.

Seeing all this happen on almost a daily basis, I thought of shutting down my Twitter account. I was immensely troubled, truly harassed, and cyber- bullied to such an extent that my daily activities and thought processes were falling off track. And this boy, it appeared had absolutely no intention of ever stopping or slowing down.

Encounters with an Online Stalker

Then, one day, it hit me! I decided that I had had enough of all this preposterous cyber behavior, and I had been the helpless victim for way too long. So, I thought of taking matters into my own hands. I consulted a few Indian legal websites and books, noted down the relevant sections, and finally wrote out a lengthy post addressed to the Twitter profile of the stalker boy making it amply clear that, if he continued with his derogatory and defamatory tweets about me, I shall have no option but to proceed against him legally.

Since the day I had sent him the stern legal warning via Twitter, I waited for a few days to see if he continued with his nefarious activities. The fact was that if he did not stop, then I would have to proceed to the Delhi Police for help and respective action.