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I do not feel safe online anymore!

The power of technology is inescapable. No matter how hard you try living without it, you will always be overwhelmed by its effect somehow! I personally tried not to be taken away by technology. Four years ago, people complained about me not having facebook and that they cannot connect with me. Today, I have a facebook account, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, an account on dropbox, and recently an account on Worldpulse! The exciting thing, I use them all!

Four years ago, my knowledge of technology was basic. Social media was nothing more than posting pictures and commenting, until I realized that it is a lot more powerful. The way you reach out the world with one click is the beauty of it, but the question is, what effects do we have on the world? It is entirely your call.

Your footprint is your footprint. You can leave a white one or a black one. I decided to have a white clean positive effect on the world. Managing thousands of people on a facebook group to help them find employment is one example. Writing about my community issues using worldpulse is another example. Am I proud? Definitely yes, am I feeling safe? NO

Unfortunately, some people enjoying abusing the power of technology. It is not just how they use, but also why the use it. Two years ago I was added to a facebook group called Employment Help Center. A good man wanted to help people to know what jobs are available in town once, so he started a group on facebook. I felt obligated. I shared open vacancies, I commented, I helped, and I was assigned to be the admin of the group.

Few months later, another female was added and together we worked so hard to flourish the group. We managed to reach15 + thousand members. We felt successful.

They say happiness does not last for too long. The other female admin was harassed by someone from the group. Her profile picture was taken out of the web, creating fake accounts for her. She was called a prostitute, the fake account added people from her work, school, and even her family.

Some of you may say, so what?! If you live in a conservative judging community, like Iraq or Kurdistan, you should know that this would affect a woman’s life and reputation. She may lose her job, her family may blame her! We live in an unfair community and we know it.

Later on, she was contacted by the fake account, threatened to take it further if he/she was not made an admin for the employment group. She tried too hard. She created another account, she informed others to interfere, but no hope. Eventually, she removed herself from the admin panel.

Obviously, the fake account wanted to steal the group, so there is one more admin to take down. It was my turn to face the attack. Do you think I should remove myself too? Is it going to solve the problem? Do we give the attacker the pleasure of stealing the group? No.

I had to deactivate my facebook account, I had to investigate, and God knows what else I did to figure out whom and why someone was trying to steal our work or fake our names. I am too concerned that I expect him/her to be reading this, so I wont be giving more details, but the question is, how long, as a women working online, do I have to deal with this?

90% of our work nowadays is done online. We send emails, we write posts, we advertise, we blog, we tweet, and most often we subscribe to websites to get newsletters or fill out applications. With that being done, are we going to be vulnerable? I am scared to use my picture on any profile I create, I know women who do not use their real names either. WHY?

If we cannot get our least rights of being who we are, why do we bother being there? Some women try so hard to please their communities, but when they are behind the screens, they are who they are as they feel more comfortable. Is this going to be taken away from them?

The fake account was reported by 15 people, yet it was not deactivated as Facebook “Security policy” claims. On behalf of the affected women, I have the bellow messages:

Dear Facebook,
I am a woman, I work for 9 hours a day, am online most of the time. I don’t post pictures but rather articles. I don’t tag my friends with pictures; I tag them to job posts. I never harass anyone online, yet someone created over 5 fake accounts to harass me or used my name to harass other people. Why do you allow it?

Dear email providers,
I have created an account 7 years ago. I used it for school, and now I use it on daily basis. I never had to create fake accounts, yet you allow people to create them so they can easily use them to create multiple accounts of Facebook.

Doesn't the solution seem easy? First, people will use one network to create multiple accounts. Facebook/email can easily figure that this person is trying to create fake accounts. Of course, giving a message to those creating the account, asking to try other networks to proceed is dumb. Facebook can block access for sometime so that the user knows it is not legal. Perhaps, a message should pop up to clarify that “you cannot create multiple accounts”.

I understand, they will try again next week and it will work. How about we ask for real identities? Passport numbers may be? While creating an email we are asked to provide personal details and security questions, a person can use fake details, but it takes a huge responsibility to use someone else’s passport number to create a fake account. Yes, it can happen, but once it does, it is called Identity theft, and it is a crime.

Plus, our role as users will make us aware not to send passport copies to anyone unless it is officially requested. If your passport number was ever stolen, then you can narrow down the search and find who could have done it faster.

It will also be easier for governments to track the criminals. Like any other crimes there will be suspects, investigations, and eventually the right criminal will be found.

Unfortunately, in countries like mine, identity robbery is not being properly handled. Not only this, but there are no laws imposed to penalize the criminals. I consider what I faced online is some sort of identity theft.

The fake account have contacted other people, tried to do things under my name, and God knows what could have happened if we haven’t managed to stop it. 4 women including myself experienced this in one month. I am sure there are a lot more.

Technology companies must increase security measures and restrictions. Would you allow an account called “XXO LOVE” or “ DNW MOR” with 1 day timeline, to message 4 years old account trying to insult or fake his/her identity? Not to mention attempts to photoshope their images.

Governments needs to impose laws and apply penalties against such acts. They need to enforce network security. I, as a woman, I deserve to live in peace. Some women lost peace within their communities so they turned to online communities where they feel comfortable speaking their minds. With hackers, attackers, fake accounts or whatever they are called, this peace is being taken away from us. I refuse it, you should refuse it too. We must change it.

We need an establishment where women online safety and security can be defended. We need to be able to file complains, report abuse, and track those who harassed us. As a woman you should not be ashamed of anything. Do not be scared that someone faked your name. He/she is the one to blame and feel ashamed.

This story was written for World Pulse’s Women Weave the Web Digital Action Campaign. Learn more »

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kellyannaustin's picture

frightening and inspirational

You have really captured the swirl of emotions one must feel as someone adapts and adopts your identity. So overwhelming! Yet, even in the midst of feeling distraught, you are calling us to action, to stand up against the people who are attempting to take advantage of others. Our strength, as you say, will be the undoing of these folks with such ill will. Thank you for sharing your story and your solutions!

In gratitude,

Kelly

shahd's picture

thanks

Thank you dear Kelly. I am glad you liked it. Someday we will get rid of all kinds of harassment or at least be able to claim our rights of being protected.

thanks again darling

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Kelly- A thoughtful yet

Kelly- A thoughtful yet disturbing article. I am sorry to read about this online harassment and the defacement of other women. The internet provides wonderful opportunity which is organic and ever-evolving. It has also provided a fertile field for those with alterior motives of harming others.

You are an exmaple of speaking up and taking action. It will take all of us together, watching out for each other and speaking for those who are afraid and at risk for further harm.

If we notice someone needing help with online safety, there are resources out there. One is here on World Pulse, which I'm sure you've already seen: http://worldpulse.com/files/upload/7404/world_pulse_online_safety_and_se...

Standing with you always-

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

shahd's picture

Dear Cali, Thank you so much

Dear Cali,

Thank you so much for your support. yes, I have seen this resource on world pulse.
It is so sad how I became so concerned about everything I post thinking of possible harassment I may face. Thanks for being there for us

best,

Shahd

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Dear Shahd- I wanted to

Dear Shahd-
I wanted to follow up on your online safety concerns, to see if there has been progress made? Or are you still feeling unsafe? Please make sure to alert a World Pulse staff member, or me directly, if you need privacy alert on this website. We take online safety very seriously. Here is a recently posted resource: http://worldpulse.com/book/export/html/29903

Please take good care, dear!

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

shahd's picture

Not yet dear, someone has

Not yet dear, someone has stolen a picture posted on some article related to me few weeks ago
Thanks your follow up, i will use the site you provided

novine's picture

PAINFUL

Dear Shahd, I can imagine the pain you are going through, recently I had almost the same experience, my website was hacked, all most all my customers phone numbers were lost, I couldn't do business for almost a month. The hacker even displayed a phone number to contact him, I contacted him and he told me to pay him, I declined and I told him that he will not get a dime from me. I had to change my hosting provider before I could start using my site again.

Technology providers ( Hosting and domain companies especially) need to make our websites more secured.

Okocha Nkem

Founder,
Gbekele Ecosystem (Behavioral Modification loans for women)

shahd's picture

Oh thats sad!! I am so sorry

Oh thats sad!! I am so sorry that you experienced this too
I hope that someday we will freely use technology without worrying too much about our safety
Love
Shahd

BAJIRA CHISHUBA's picture

VOTRE ARTICLE

Bonjour ma chère Shahd, Oui je vous ai lu, j'ai compris votre preocupation avec la nouvelle technologie
C'est vraiment avec grand regret que j'ai lu ton experience avec toute les consequences possibles que vous avez parcourrit,
Bien sur la nouvelle technologie est là, on dit souvant que les bonnes choses pour les uns deviennent un malheur pour les autres: c'est pour dire:
les uns emploient la technologie pour communication, echanges d'experiences,recherches....
mais pour les autres c'est devennu un lien de deshonnorer, de maltraiter les autres, que devons-nous dire à ce gents?
Nous ne pouvons pas cesser de les sensibiliser, car le changement commence par nous
Merci et courrage

bajira

BAJIRA CHISHUBA's picture

VOTRE ARTICLE

Excusez-moi de vous dire que: quand on m'a dit de vous commenter, j'avais peur, je me suis demander si vous etes une bette, mais quand je vous ai lu , j' ai facillement compris
Courage

bajira

boughnea's picture

Keep up your efforts!

I'm sorry to hear of your struggles with all of this. I also liked that you had solutions and not just saying all of the challenges without hope. I know it may not be very encouraging, but I think you should continue to fight and push on, even if it may not be an issue solved in your lifetime. I think about that sometimes. I think of how I may give my whole life to a cause or pursuit and I may never see the outcome. But, we must keep it up. You can't blaze a trail through a thick, mess of a jungle on the first walk through - many must come beside you and after you to make the path clear and persisting.

Keep it up. Be brave. May you have success and safety.

-Amanda

shahd's picture

This is very encouraging

This is very encouraging Amanda
Thanks alot i know we have a long way to go and make some people realize our rights whether online or offline
Harassments take different styles, this is just one of them and i hope oneday i can literally report abusers
Love
Shahd

Kristina M's picture

Keep going forward

Shahd,

Unfortunately, the law makers have not kept up with the changes of technology to ensure social media platforms are safer for users and the company's involved have no real incentive to stop this harassment. I am glad to read that you want to use the internet for a positive influence on the world and hope you continue to do so despite your recent experiences.

Kristina

shahd's picture

Thanks dear, Well i guess its

Thanks dear,
Well i guess its time they start working on it cause we are heading toward broader use for technology in our lives
Today, we are reaching out people that are as far as 7000 miles away brcause of technology and its the time we implement all laws that we must live by if technology wouldnt have existed!
Love
Shahd

Kristina M's picture

I agree

Yes, we do need to follow the same laws and rules on the internet as we do in real life.

Kristina

Precious M's picture

Online Safety

Dear Shahd,

Your story has raised awareness on the other side of the coin. Technology is great for us but we really need to be safe online. I hope Facebook and email providers get this message and do something about it.

Regards,
Precious

My pen speaks

shahd's picture

Thanks alot dear I hope they

Thanks alot dear
I hope they do too
Love
Shahd

mlf's picture

Thank you

I appreciate hearing about your disturbing experiences. I am so sorry to know that you and other women must fight against this vulnerability.
I don't know if you have access to books from the US but I recently read a thought provoking and disturbing novel about technology and people run amok. Its title is The Circle by Dave Eggers. Technology can obviously be both a blessing and a curse.

shahd's picture

I agree with you! Misusing

I agree with you! Misusing technology has made it a curse
I will search for this book to read
Thanks for your support
Love
Shahd

binapatel33's picture

Dear Shahd, Thank you for

Dear Shahd,
Thank you for sharing your story with us. I am proud of the stand that you have taken to help women who have been subjugated due to one of the many downfalls of the internet. Unfortunately, as good as the internet is, the way it is used by people really makes a difference. In the event of your story, we have two sides, one good (you) and the other bad (the man who harassed) the female worker. First let me start by saying that I am proud of you, with starting this site on Facebook b/c your intentions are very good. Unfortunately, there are bad people in every society who will do whatever it takes to hurt someone. Although government policy regulation can help, sometimes it does very little. We have seen this here in the U.S. so with that being said, I want you and your female workers to remain strong, and find a way to discipline this co-worker for his lack of professionalism. In the U.S. had this occurred in the workplace, the employee who harassed the individual would be fired immediately. Is there any way that you can let him go? Or does he work with you on a volunteer basis?

Thank you,
Bina

Kind Regards,
Bina Patel
hc Mediate, LLC
www.hcmediate.com

shahd's picture

Thanks for your feedback my

Thanks for your feedback my dear! The point is, we do not know who the person is! Its someone who created fake accounts and started to use our profile pictures to create another fake accounts for us to attack other people!
If we knew who is behind it, it would have been alot easier
As you said, we need to be stronger

SanPatagonia's picture

We must stop cyber harassment!

Dear Shahd, your post says what has to be said strong and clear. I do agree with you on the concern about our online safety. There's a huge issue here and it's about business being made by these identity thefts or online fake identities. Social media companies make profit of the amount of users, not taking so much care about who those users really are or what they do online.
Cyber stalking finds a perfect ally on anonymity. Cruel, difamatory and bullying behaviour is taken as collateral damage of the freedom technology has given us... but, is it a proper reading of what's happening or just a "let the river run" situation?
As society we haven't been really active on this matter, and when children started being cyberbullied we weren't ready at all and gasped in awe.

It's sad to know you're living this terrible situation and I thank you for your courage by sharing your story and make us all think about it and about the responsibility that lies in our hands.

Stay strong!

@SanPatagonia
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