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Friday, December 14, 2007

Sometimes I really hate the media, Myspace needs to smarten up, Video Professor update, more

I was interviewed by many media outlets for the Myspace suicide story mentioned in an earlier post here. Fox News, Associated Press, local radio and newspaper, even the Dr. Phil Show called about possibly doing a show about it, but postponed it. What gets me is just about every major media outlet misquoted or quoted me out of context.

The AP Story quoted me as stating that the law passed in Dardenne Prairie outlawing cyberstalking was meaningless (this is the city where the girl lived). It is. But the reporter didn't add just WHY I stated it was meaningless, so I looked like a mean person who didn't give a damn about the girl who died. Oy.

The reason the law is meaningless is because the law can only be used if BOTH the victim and harasser are located in Dardenne Prairie, or just the harasser (a victim, if they have to pursue charges or sue their harasser, must do so where the harasser lives, not where they live. . .unless the police want to extradite the harasser, which rarely happens). Since over 70% of the cases my organization, WHOA works on shows that victims and harassers are not in the same state OR country, this law won't work.

I personally feel that Dardenne Prairie meant well, but did it more to appease the parents of the girl who committed suicide. Missouri DOES have a cyberstalking law, but what causes this girl to commit suicide was NOT cyberstalking or online harassment. Nor was it cyberbullying. It was because an adult was allowed to create a fake Myspace profile to use to lull the girl into a false sense of being wanted by a boy her age, then having that "boy" call her fat, among other mean things.

Cyberstalking is (this is the Department of Justice definition):

"the use of the Internet, e-mail, or other electronic communications devices to stalk another person. Stalking generally involves harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects, or vandalizing a person's property."

Cyberstalkers frequently follow their targets around the net, in chat rooms, message boards, newsgroups or mailing lists in which the victim participates. At times they will also attempt to form relationships with those who are friendly with the target in order to get more information about the target. This is based upon the thousands of cases WHOA has worked on over the past 10 years, so I know what I am talking about. That is why I am a cyber crime *expert.*

This girl did not ask the "boy" to leave her alone. She kept asking "him" why he had turned on her and called her mean things. Writing mean things online is not a crime, or I'd have hundreds of people jailed because of the mean things written to me. It was awful, but not a crime. Period.

It's a crying shame what happened to that teenaged girl, but the blame needs to be put squarely on Myspace and other web sites that allow anyone to get a free profile without proving they are a real person. This goes for Yahoo, Livejournal, Hotmail, Gmail, Facebook (which should have stuck to being exclusive to educational institutions - what a stupid move they made when they opened up membership to everyone online. Their exclusivity made them stand out. Now they're just "another" Myspace), etc.

Paypal has a way to verify someone, so it's not a matter of *how* to verify if a person signing up for a profile is real or not. It's a matter of spending the money on employees and time to do the verification process. These other web sites are more interested in getting as many members as possible and not caring about keeping them safe online. It always comes down to money and it disgusts me. If a verification process had been in place at Myspace, I bet that girl would be alive today.

There. I've said my piece. Now it's in writing online and no one can misquote me.

On to other news in my life:

I had to go to a local TV station to film some segments for the upcoming Video Professor release of the 3-CD tutorial based on my book, Net Crimes & Misdemeanors 2nd edition. I basically answered a bunch of questions about staying safer online. What killed me was the producer taping the segments. At the end, I told him he should give me a call anytime he needed an expert on Internet safety and crimes. He told me he'd met someone this past spring who also did that. Hmm. That would be. . .ME!

He couldn't believe I was the same person. I've lost a lot of weight since then. Gone from a size 12 to between a 6 and 8 (if they made size 7 clothes, I'd fit in them, LOL). He told me I looked great and would call. Since they're an ABC affiliate, that would be good. We'll see.

The Video Professor release was pushed back to the first week in January, so as not to compete with the holidays and Christmas shopping rush. Which is fine with me.

My personal life is wonderful. The man in my life, Chris, is amazing in all ways - he's romantic, funny, handsome and treats me like a queen. I love the attention. And it shows. Everyone says I look so happy. Because I am.

He's been working on restoring a Jeep I won on eBay in the summer. It's a 1981 CJ7 - fun with the top and doors off. So he has been slowly replacing the rusted parts on it. Last Sunday, even though he wore safety glasses, a piece of metal got in his eye. We tried flushing it out with Visine, but by Monday night his eye swelled up. So off to York Hospital we went. I hate emergency rooms. It took for-ev-er. Finally, the doc on duty came in to remove the metal splinter - thank goodness it was on the left of his iris and not affecting his vision. Numbing drops were put in. I would have been freaking if it had been me. We got drops to put in and by now Chris' eye was really swollen. He got some pills to help him sleep. The next morning we went to my eye doctor's office so that he could remove the rust around the miniscule hole the sliver came out of. Yuck. Numbing drops were put on his eye again and it was done. He ended up with one huge dilated pupil (from the drops) and one regular size. He looked freaky, ha ha.

We had to go to western Massachusetts yesterday to bring presents to his kids for Christmas. When we got close to our destination, the snow started. Then it just hit like a blizzard. I couldn't believe how fast it hit. What you saw on TV was nothing like driving in it. A normally 2 1/2 hour ride home (we had to postpone the gift-giving because of the snowstorm and basically turned around to go home) took 8 hours. We had Bandit and Guin with us and Guin is a great little traveler. Bandit is not. Even with his medication to keep him calm, he wouldn't shut up the whole ride home. Chris and I took turns driving (average speed was 25-30 MPH) and we thought we'd never get home. We couldn't stay in a hotel because he has a job plowing driveways in a local condo complex, so we *had* to get home.

Needless to say, present giving has been postponed until next week.

We finally rolled in at 8 pm. Chris promptly went out to plow our driveway and walkway and we finally got to bed around 11 pm. Bandit got me up at 330 am, restless, and started to pee in the house. So I took him out, cleaned up, then couldn't get back to sleep. I ended up in the living room on the couch watching TV. I took an Execdrin PM to try to get some sleep, but it took forever to take effect. Chris got up at 5 am, worried I wasn't in bed. He got ready to go plow the condo driveways and by the time he came back to the couch, I was sleeping. He picked me up and carried me to bed, kissed my forehead, then let me sleep. I thought I dreamed him carrying me.

I got up at 830 am when the eye doctor called to reschedule Chris' followup appointment, then the heating guy showed up to do the yearly checkup on the burner in the basement. I am exhausted. So is Chris. I have to do a book event at the local library tonight and was hoping they'd cancel or reschedule. No such luck. Oh well. Hope I'm not "punchy" tonight, ha ha.

We got a small Christmas tree for the living room last Sunday and with everything that's been going on, we hope to finally decorate it tomorrow. Another snowstorm is on the way. Which means more work for Chris, but he needs it. So we are hoping for a very snowy winter (ha ha).

It's never a dull moment.

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