Don't Make Life Easier for Harassers. Don't Change Your Blocking Feature

Don't Make Life Easier for Harassers. Don't Change Your Blocking Feature

    1. Zerlina Maxwell
    2. Petition by

      Zerlina Maxwell

      Brooklyn, NY

December 2013


Twitter just updated their blocking policy and it’s a nightmare.  According to a statement put out on Thursday evening this is the new blocking policy:

 If your account is public, blocking a user does not prevent that user from following you, interacting with your Tweets, or receiving your updates in their timeline. If your Tweets are protected, blocking the user will cause them to unfollow you.

Previously, if you were being harassed or simply trolled by spam accounts, you could click the “Block” button which would forbid that user from ever following you and also remove them from your mentions and timeline.  Now, even if you block someone who is harassing you, that person becomes invisible to you but they are free to follow you and RT you into their timeline.

This is a huge and very serious problem for people, like me, who have received repeated rape and death threats on Twitter on a fairly consistent basis.  I utilize the Block button almost every day and while that is not a perfect solution - because users can simply log out to view your timeline even if you have blocked them - it at least forbid harassers from following you and at worst retweeting you into their feed which can simply allow their followers to also harass you.

Twitter is no longer a safe space.  As a public person who uses the medium for my work, I am very concerned because stalkers and abusers will now be able to keep tabs on their victims, and while there was no way to prevent it 100% before, Twitter should not be in the business of making it easier to stalk someone.

Don't Make Life Easier for Harassers. Don't Change Your Blocking Feature

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    1. Reached 2,500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Anita Kanitz STUTTGART, GERMANY
      • 10 months ago

      nfortunately, stalking is not taken seriously in the judiciary and society worldwide. The result is mental and physical destruction of mostly female victims. The victims are kept by the judiciary, police, society, family and the entire environment down. They appear in the media only when they are getting kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed. Unfortunately, there are just women who didn't help the women but the stalker. All my concerned friends and girlfriends and me is that happens in this kind. Men know their companions very well and believe stalking much faster. To people who do not stand by one in need, you have lost nothing, the sad thing is that women participate actively and passively stalking because they don't help the victims or even support the stalker. Aid to stalking should be equally punished as a criminal offense as the stalking itself because the stalker is neither worshiper nor poor pitiable jilted ex-partner. Stalkers are cowards, psychopaths, sadists who know exactly what they are doing. I support this petition, because I know exactly what these poor victims are going through!

      Stalking & Hate Crimes, Cyberbullies

      Bullying is an increasing problem among young people in Canada. Although picking on the smaller kid or teasing the new girl may seem like old news, the beast that is bullying is taking on new and more serious forms. In a time where teen suicide rates are high and anything “different” is a target, the digital age, with all of its conveniences, has brought an opportunity for a new kind of bullying – one that threatenes to leave its mark more permanently than any other form before it – cyberbullying.Cyberbullying is defined as one young adult being maliciously tormented, harassed, threatened, humiliated, demeaned or otherwise targeted by another using a digital resource. Bullies may set up degrading websites, threaten the victim through text message, create hateful chain e-mails or post embarrassing pictures or videos online. Cyberbullying is a relatively new form of bullying but unlike other varieties, it takes on a much wider spectrum of behaviours. It can be social, verbal and psychological, and opens the door to much more serious problems such as sexual harassment and cyber-stalking.

      Negative Effects for Victim

      The negative effects of cyberbullying are far-reaching for both parties involved. For the victim, being cyber bullied is a harrowing experience. The images and words cruelly plastered on Facebook walls and websites not only sting on a personal level, but are there for the internet to see. Instead of being limited to a few teenagers in a cafeteria, the bullying becomes wildly public and all the more humiliating. This availability to everyone with internet access provides an opportunity for more spiteful comments, as well as the decimation of reputations on a worldwide scale. Moreover, ability to use the all-important internet as a safe resource and learning tool is taken away from the student.

      Negatives Effects for Bully

      Despite the extensive list of destructive effects, cyberbullying is still seen as a “popular” kind of bullying. The danger is that it is so much easier to say something harmful behind the perceived safety of a computer screen. Anger over a small incident can quickly escalate over messaging, especially since true emotions are removed from the conversation. The ability to appear anonymous is attractive but deceiving. Students, even those who would not normally engage in bullying are much more likely to participate in kicking down a classmate if their identities remain unknown.

      A Mississauga student, and victim of hateful chainmail, remarks “It’s so much more powerful because this way, you can seriously hurt a person mentally, without ‘getting blood on your hands’ and exposing yourself to be heartless.” This feeling of detachment from the actual harassment can be incredibly risky for the bully. Online activity can be tracked and used by authorities to spot particularly malicious teens, especially in dire cases of death threats or suicides. The consequences are dire for the tormenters – anywhere from staying unemployed to being charged with harassment.

      What Are Schools Doing?

      Fortunately, schools all over the country are taking action. As a response to cyberbullying, many schools hold assemblies and workshops to raise awareness and try to minimize the effects. Schools often call in local police officers to inform students of the severe consequences of bullying. However, cautionary tales are not the most effective way to reach teenage bullies, something many administrators are beginning to realize. The best way to stop bullying, is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

      Cawthra Park, a leading school in the Peel Board in bullying prevention is taking action. The school promotes anti-bullying day, where students wear pink in support of acceptance and has a school support line, and has a committee of parents dedicated to helping stop bullying. “I believe that it is up to us as friends and peers to finally put an end to bullying” says one Cawthra student, who continues to say “One simple step to stop bullying dead in its tracks will go a long way. Let our generation be the generation of change.” Fostering a spirit of acceptance and responsibility in schools is what keeps bullying from being taken outside the classroom and onto the web.

      Parents too are recognizing the importance of letting cyberbullying die out along with VHS tapes and MySpace. It is is almost impossible to erase all traces of an action on the internet. As children become more computer literate, cyberbullying becomes more and more common – and both the victim and the bully are left with an ugly online footprint that can follow them for the rest of their lives. The concept that what happens on the internet is essentially there forever is extremely important to instill in children. Teaching them digital responsibility and tactfulness on the internet from a young age goes a long way in preventing the spread of cyberbullying.

      The internet may be an increasingly essential part of young people’s lives today, but cyberbullying should never be. Many students grudgingly admit cyberbullying is a normal part of online life – let’s change that.

      New research reported at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference and Exhibition shows that cyberbullying is rarely the sole factor in teen suicides.

      The team searched for reports of youth suicides where cyberbullying was a reported factor, logging information about demographics and the event itself through online news media and social networks.

      They also used descriptive statistics to assess the rate of pre-existing mental illness, the occurrence of other forms of bullying, and the characteristics of the electronic media associated with each suicide case.

      The team identified 41 suicide cases from the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Australia, including 24 female and 17 male from the ages 13 to 18.

      They found 24 percent of teens were the victims of homophobic bullying, including the 12 percent of teens identified as homosexual and another 12 percent of teens identified as heterosexual.

      Suicides most frequently occurred in September and January, but the authors warned these higher rates may have occurred by chance.

      The incidence of suicide cases increased over time, with 56 percent occurring from 2003 to 2010, compared to 44 percent from January 2011 through April 2012.

      They found that 78 percent of adolescents who committed suicide were bullied at school and online, and only 17 percent were targeted online only.

      A mood disorder was reported in 32 percent of the teens, and depression symptoms in an additional 15 percent.

      “Cyberbullying is a factor in some suicides, but almost always there are other factors such as mental illness or face-to-face bullying,” study author John C. LeBlanc said in a press release. “Cyberbullying usually occurs in the context of regular bullying.”

      Cyberbullying occurred through social media sites like Facebook and Formspring, both specifically mentioned in 21 cases. Text or video messaging was noted in 14 cases.

      “Certain social media, by virtue of allowing anonymity, may encourage cyberbullying,” Dr. LeBlanc said in the release. “It is difficult to prove a cause and effect relationship, but I believe there is little justification for anonymity.”

      Cases of suicides linked to cyberbullying have grown over the past decade, but being tormented over the internet is rarely the main factor involved, a new Canadian study shows.

      There have been 41 suicides since 2003 involving cyberbullying in the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom, but most of the victims were also bullied in school and many suffered from mental illness, including depression, said John C. LeBlanc, a professor at Dalhousie University in Halifax who conducted the research.

      "Although cyberbullying is a new and fairly awful modern manifestation of bullying … it is not a cause of suicide," he told CBC News. "It's only one factor among many … People who are cyberbullied have, for the most part, been bullied in more traditional manners as well."

      The recent case of British Columbia teen Amanda Todd, who took her own life after posting a video on YouTube describing how she had been tormented by bullying online and struggling with depression, has shone a spotlight on the problem of cyberbullying and the tragic consequences that can result.

      Her death last week sparked a firestorm of international attention, prompted RCMP to investigate the contributing factors, including cyberbullying, and pushed MPs to call for a national anti-bullying strategy.

      There have been other high-profile cases in Canada, such as Jenna Bowers-Bryanton, a 15-year-old Nova Scotia girl who took her own life in January 2011.

      78% of victims bullied online and in person

      LeBlanc and his team of researchers analyzed English-language media reports of suicides in which cyberbullying was mentioned. They identified 41 cases, stemming as far back as 2003.

      Their research showed that the incidence increased over time, with 23 cases (56 per cent) taking place between 2003 and 2010. But in 2011 and the first four months of 2012, there were 18 cases of suicides with a cyberbullying link.

      There is no clear reason why the cases appear to be growing, but exposure and use of social media has increased, LeBlanc said.

      "While it is catastrophic, it is rare. These 41 cases, over four countries in eight years illustrate that … but it's rare and therefore very difficult to study," he said.

      The vast majority of cases, 23, were in the U.S., followed by six in Australia, five in the U.K. and four in Canada.

      Of the victims, 78 per cent of them who committed suicide were bullied both at school and online — with only 17 per cent targeted on the internet only, the study showed.

      A mood disorder was present in 32 per cent of the teens, and another 15 per cent also had depression symptoms.

      Another notable finding was that all of the victims were between the ages of 13 to 18, likely stemming from the pressures of adolescence, LeBlanc said.

      "Teenagers are very vulnerable that way," he said. "Adults use social media, particularly young adults. So, it's not exposure to social media, but about being a young adolescent that is trying to form his or her identity, and cares very much about what people think."

      Social networking sites used in nearly half of cases

      The victims were more often female, with 24 female cases compared with 17 males, researchers found.

      The researchers also catalogued the type of electronic media or social media used.

      Social networking sites were used in 48 per cent of all the suicide cases, while messaging (text, pictures or video) were used in 25 per cent of the cases.

      Facebook was used in cyberbullying most often, cited in 27 per cent of cases, while Facebook combined with messaging of pictures, videos and texts were used in 13 per cent.

      Also, it appeared that most of the suicides took place in September and January, coinciding with the beginning of a new school semester, though there were not enough cases to be statistically significant, LeBlanc said.

      The takeaway message from the study, he said, is like with traditional bullying, people must intervene when they suspect someone is being bullied.

      Todd's recent suicide is a "striking example," he said, of a troubled person putting out a cry for help, but no one coming to her aid.

      Because bullying usually takes places out of the view of most adults, other young people need to step in, whether online or in person, LeBlanc said.

      "Youth themselves have to develop a code of ethics or civility … where, when things like this happen, they actually jump in to protect the other person, and they actually post things online that says this is inappropriate," he said.

      The Predatory Stalker

      For the predatory stalker, stalking is foreplay; the real goal is sexual assault. While they may gain satisfaction from the sense of control and power stalking gives them over the victim, it’s the violent and sexual fantasies that they engage in while researching, planning, and following the victim that really gets them off as they prepare for the ultimate thrill – the sexual assault itself.

      The stalking may have a sadistic quality to it. For example, some predatory stalkers mess with their victim’s minds by leaving subtle clues that they are being followed without revealing their identity. However, even when the victim is unaware that she is being stalked, the perpetrator can still take delight in the details – deciding how long to prolong the suspense, rehearsing the attack, fantasizing about the victim’s response.

      Is the Predatory Stalker Mentally Ill?

      Not in the way most people think. Predatory stalkers are not “love-sick” (i.e., due to unrequited love). Nor are predatory stalkers motivated by strong emotional attachment to their victims. Their stalking does not reflect efforts to establish or maintain close, positive relationships with victims; nor did it reflect separation protest or intense personal distress over the dissolution of a close relationship. Predatory stalkers are more likely to use stalking o gratify their need for dominance and control and, ultimately, to gratify sadistic sexual desires.

      Predatory stalkers have a different set of problems. In comparison to other types of stalkers, predatory stalkers are more likely to have a history of convictions for other sexual offense and to have a diagnosable paraphilia (pattern of deviant sexual arousal), particularly involving sexual sadism. Unlike stalkers who develop delusions that their victim is really in love with them or has committed some imaginary offense, these stalkers rarely have psychotic disorders. They do, however, often have personality disorders.

      Is the Predatory Stalker a Psychopath?

      While most stalkers (or sexual offenders, for that matter) are not psychopaths, it is interesting that those stalkers who do have psychopathic traits tend to exhibit pursuit behaviors that are similar to stalking predators. For instance, research suggests that psychopathy is associated with what could be summarized as “boldness and coldness” in stalkers.

      Predatory stalkers are also most likely to lead double lives, leaving their friends and family stunned and disbelieving when they are finally caught. Night stalker Delroy Grant, for example, who stalked, raped and terrorized retired pensioners for years, was viewed as a friendly, self-sacrificing neighbor who religiously cared for his wife who was paralyzed from the neck down from multiple sclerosis. Midwestern “Mall Rapist” James Perry stalked young girls in the malls and shopping center parking lots, was a popular member of his suburban community, where he lived with his wife and two young children.

      The Bottom Line

      All stalkers have the potential for violence although, fortunately, few actually commit it. Predatory stalkers, however, are a particularly dangerous breed. Cold and calculating, on the surface they are often able to maintain a façade as a devoted husband, caring professional or kind-hearted neighbor. Underneath, though, lurks an underbelly of twisted sexual desires and predatory violence.

      Gang stalking is surveillance and harassment of a designated target, by stalkers who are members of groups, which are networked.

      Gang stalking has three essential elements:

      The harassment is done by a substantial number of people, not by an obsessed single stalker, nor by helpers who are recruited by an obsessed single stalker.

      The group members are given the name of the target and/or have the target identified for them. They rarely know the target beforehand.

      Organized stalking community groups are tightly networked with stalking groups in other communities.

      You can think of gang stalking as mobbing which is extended to all aspects of your life, so that you can never escape some degree of harassment.

      The harassment is often carried out in a way to blame the victim for the harassment. This is called victim blaming.

      There are strong hints that the gang stalkers are a satanist cult. Currently we can’t prove that. But, clearly, there’s more that we don’t know yet.

      The procedure:

      They choose more or less randomly a person.

      They isolate him from the people that he knew by making him appear crazy.

      He gathers new suspect people around him.

      All these people are put under investigation.

      Wherever the suspect people go, the army recruits snitches. They form a large network that collects information. This can be stimulated by means of quota and bonuses for writing reports.

      Where it goes from here depends on the circumstances:

      Normally it goes on forever.

      If the suspect people cause a financial loss for the government, especially when there’s much drug related crime, then they are quickly arrested.

      If the suspect people appear to be an apolitical network then they are dismantled by monitoring and analyzing their cell phone use: the army knows where they are when they call each other. In this way they dismantled a gang stalking network in Louvain-la-Neuve (which counts 10,000 citizens) in Belgium. That’s to the southeast of Brussels. The members were all over the city. There was 50 m between them.

      If the victim becomes aware of the harassment then he will resist. Generally, this is the situation of people who out themselves as a targeted individual. Then the goal changes: the victim has to be removed as quickly as possible from society so he can’t spread what he knows:



      forced suicide,

      murder. In this case, they will first toy some time with the victim to make him fear for his life. Then they suddenly kill him.

      The connection between women's human rights, gender equality, socioeconomic development and peace is increasingly apparent.

      -- Mahnaz Afkhami

      Women's empowerment is intertwined with respect for human rights.

      -- Mahnaz Afkhami

      • 10 months ago

      I receive tweets from people I do not wish to, which regularly include rude and abusive messages towards me. I do not EVER want to receive these again and I am totally shocked that these are being allowed to be shared on twitter by an account I have blocked. Twitter, get your act together and do not let this happen!!

    • Nick Weber SEATTLE, WA
      • 10 months ago

      the change doesn't make any sense. why wouldn't you be able to protect yourself from others?

    • Lorie Lucky SEATTLE, WA
      • 10 months ago

      Because Zerlina Maxwell is a leading feminist and I don't want her harassed.

      • 10 months ago

      Basic Accountability Processes for Social Media are a must


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