Tomorrow, E.M. Lunsford returns to discuss how social media protects predators.
It’s an important article. I have witnessed first-hand the kind of abuses that E.M. is writing about. The names may all be changed in the article, but I know who E.M. is referencing because I have actually seen the abuses with my own eyes.
About a year ago, via the writing community on Twitter, I learned the meaning of MAP. No, I didn’t know what it stood for before then. A self-proclaimed MAP individual had infiltrated the writing community and was posting links to their writings about having sex with minors.
I did some investigating. This person was, let’s say, easily within 100 miles of me. They were known to police. They target young, teenage girls. They posted images of young teen girls wearing sexually suggestive clothing in sexually suggestive poses, and they posted them on Twitter. On Facebook they even had their phone number listed.
I was part of a group of more than a hundred twitter users who reported this individual for conduct violations. It took weeks for Twitter to act, and the individual had so many secondary accounts they just popped back up again.
I received death threats.
Twitter did nothing.
I contacted all mutual followers to let them know who they were following. Some were grateful because they hadn’t realized. Some were absolutely rude because they could follow whomever they wanted. And some blocked me.
I blocked anyone who continued to follow him.
This is where we’re at. Social media platforms do more to protect an individual’s “right” to hate speech and abuses than they do to protect those who fight against them and try to stop predatory behavior online.
With a teenage daughter and proximity to the self-proclaimed hebephile, plus the death threats, I started changing the way I used Twitter because it was clear it wouldn’t protect me or my family.
This is why E.M.’s heartfelt article resonated so strongly with me. It’s why E.M.’s words need to be shared, and shared widely. Good people are putting themselves out there to try to make Twitter safe for all. They’re the ones who are paying the price, and that has to stop. It would if all decent people banded together to say that social media platforms need to address bullies and predators.
To be silent is to be complicit. And remember, just because it hasn’t happened to you doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.