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Monday, May 11, 2015

Creepster Alert (or how to recognize a potential stalker on social media)

This is a creeper alert.

So many of us post pictures of ourselves and our families and children on Facebook, and did you know that even if you do it friends only, someone can share that picture with their network AND save it to their photo page by tagging themselves in it?

Did you further know that if someone tags themselves in your picture (ie: you aren't the tagger), you, as the owner of the picture, do not have the option to untag them?

Did you even further know that unfriending the person will not untag them? You have to full out block them in order for that tag to be removed.

The good news is that if a creepy creepster is tagging himself (or herself) in your photos to make you part of a creepy FB picture collection, you probably want to block them anyway. So, seriously, get to blocking.



That's me yesterday. Those are my kids. We are going out with my husband to a Mothers Day dinner.

I do not know Jerry Jackson.

I was not "with" him.

I have never met him, and the one interaction I had with him before this left me with a creeper-alert feeling.

I was right.

He's now blocked.

But if you look at his photo page, he makes a habit of tagging himself in women's photos a lot. So that he essentially has an album of women in dresses. Probably hardly any of them whom he actually knows. That's some pretty bold creepy right that. That's some gross.

Here's the story:

Probably about a year ago, I accepted a friend request from a guy I didn't know. I never do this, but I accepted this request because we had a mutual friend who is also a journalist whom I respect without question and because his profile read that he was a professor overseas, and those two things combined seemed legit. She probably would know a professor overseas and maybe he read my stuff and liked it and had story ideas for me, or whatever.

After the acceptance, I forgot about it because we had no reason to interact.

Then two months ago, he sent me a random PM and I noticed our mutual friend had vanished. I also noticed that he spoke like a chain email from a Nigerian prince, but I've been insensitive to English Second Language before, so aside from noticing, no judgement. Except, probably not a professor. And today when I alerted a group of women to this man's behavior, their investigation showed that, no, he is not a professor at the University of Oxford. Jury's still out on whether or not he used to work for or with One Direction though. Um...



I'm one of those people who feels bad about unfriending people. In fact, this person has become only the second person I've unfriended, and he is the first I've blocked. As such, I actually replied to his response that day:



And that was the end of it. He let the conversation drop, which was fine by me. I had meant to unfriend him after that, but something in my real life distracted me, the little pm box vanished in my ever exploding inbox, and we had no further interaction of any kind, so I forgot all about it.

Until this morning.

When he tagged my photo of me and my girls.

Now, most of the women's photos where he tags himself are young, made-up gorgeous-looking women in fancy, sexy evening wear. But of the 80 or so photos (two of which he tagged himself in just minutes after tagging mine), a few scattered photos were like mine. A nice enough looking mom with her children. Why?

Two of his friends (both nice enough looking moms with children in their profile pictures) liked my photo within minutes. So my theory is, he uses photos of his 'friends' with kids to counteract the damn creepiness of scoping young, single women in dresses looking glam. My photo in which he tagged himself perhaps lent legitimacy to his online persona. The other women don't know I don't know him. They probably fully believe I was "with him" at the time. Or, if they've had their own photos co-opted by him, perhaps it gave them a feeling of peace. 'Maybe it's a compliment,' they might be thinking. 'Maybe he just likes the photos and tags himself to show how much more he likes them than the average liker. At the very least, I'm not the only woman this has happened to, so maybe it's more normal than I think.'

Well, I'm not going to be a party to normalizing creepy behavior online, and I'm certainly not going to allow my children's photo to be stacked up in an online library of pictures of women this guy "was with".

Before the internet, someone collecting photos of women like this would have easily been the subject of a crime thriller movie. Why on Earth would the medium of Facebook suddenly make it okay?

Ladies, if someone you don't know requests you as a friend, and you accept that request, if they give you ANY reason to unfriend them, do it.

And if they act like Mr. Jerry Jackson, here, block them and report them, too. It's not just for you. It's for the other women. And there are almost always other women. Someone must speak for them because too often they second guess and forget and do not speak for themselves. And then they're part of a collection of creepy photos online.

Nope.




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