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Twitter : Open for Sexual Stalking?


Edit: @Oddfollow, not Oddfellow. Summary: A stalker on Twitter? The formation of the @stalkerwarning account (now @oddfollow) and the Breasts of Twitter. Twitter is an unusual community in that it has no clear moderation (police) and no clear Code of Conduct, due to being a fully gated community.

I received a private warning yesterday on Twitter that @sluff was only following women and that I was one of the women. I wasn’t following him back. So I had a look at his following/followed list (“friends” in Facebook, without the reciprocal arrangement)
Hmmm following 311, but not a high percentage are following him back. That means he sees what we write, but we don’t see his stuff. But here’s a small taste of @sluff’s wall:
All women on his wall- amusingly @s (3rd line from the bottom, the cartoon) is a bot, an email assistant, that has only ever updated twice, the last 3 months ago. But hey! looks girly enough. Now I couldn’t find a “gender” field on Twitter profiles so I assume he is just looking and clicking. But what’s his intention? Anyway, I blocked him, so I am no longer on his wall.

Yes, your community absolutely needs a ‘foes’ list as well as a ‘friends‘ list. If you are all politically correct and squeamish – heh – call it an ignore, or a block list, but it cuts down the host based moderation when the member is able to self-moderate or guard the gates into their own walled garden of information.

Which brings me to another point: Twitter offers no moderators. This is unusual in social networks- an instant, live chat channel has a #op, a virtual world has a GM (game moderator), a forum has an Admin. So what to do??????

Well, I received the warning from KJ (I’ll name/link if she gives me permission) in a private Twitter message, called a DM (direct message). PMs or DMs are internal emails (internal to the social networking site) and can allow the community to swarm into smaller private groups for better or for worse.

I’m not shy nor easily cowed on social networks, and believe that open discussion is a powerful medium, so I published it publicly to my 685 Twitter followers – hoping they would pass on the message. I didn’t say that @sluff was up to no good. Just that he was following only women and that I had chosen to block him.

This encouraged PC (again, will publish details if she gives permission) and KJ to start a new Twitter group called @stalkerwarning. This name was not popular so it became @oddfollow. (I’m also one of the ‘Admins‘).

If you don’t give the community a code of conduct, they will define their own. *shrugs* that works on Twitter and some communities, and causes problems on others. Remember that community is about shared (or not) values.

I noticed that @oddfollow last update says :

We’ve expanded the warning system to include spammers. Spread the word!

No doubt one of the TwitterBot developers will step in and support us, i.e. submit a name, and it get’s auto- tweeted to all subscribers/followers.

This is perhaps a fine point that needs to be developed in detail but because communities are about engagement and not rules, moderators ‘know‘ or don’t know the ‘perpetrator’ and make rulings accordingly. A moderator that cares about the community will take time to examine the ‘intent’ of the action. Has this person been well behaved for two years, and can be trusted when they say their account was ‘hacked’ by school friends or left open to abuse by a younger and more immature relative? Is the members behaviour acceptable within the scope of their personality? You’d be amazed at what some communities will put up with from their most vocal, ardent members, but would stomp on from a newbie. In the absence of host-moderators, the member will make their own assessment of acceptable/unacceptable behaviour.

But perhaps the most amazing question is why us women would get upset with a silent potential stalker like @sluff and yet be amused and somewhat charmed by @FoulBastard who runs the Fouly’s Angels – Breasts of Twitter:
No, I’m not on this wall. Ain’t gonna happen.

I think it’s because Fouly is engaged with both men and women in his Twitter subcommunity, he genuinely gets involved with social consciousness discussions such as pea day and he’s … well he’s just a bloke. A politically incorrect one, but still popular with the ladies. Not even much of a bad boy, online, and you know how much we love those. Just not too bad, right?

His intentions are clear – he likes a certain part of a woman’s anatomy – and most of us either roll our eyes and enjoy the rest of his wit, or we just don’t follow him. As for the other case:we simply don’t trust @sluff’s intentions.
@foulbastard has more followers than he is following, unlike @sluff – one of the classic ways a community will make an assessment on the identity/reputation and trust of it’s members, and attribute purpose to it’s members actions.

There’s a difference between being a (potentially) stalking creep and a typical one track mind male who openly loves women. *laughs* and I love the fact that another one of my Twitter friends excitedly emailed me to say she was on his “Breasts of Twitter”. No I don’t think women are capricious, I just think we see the grey instead of black and white.

All comments welcome: both the politically correct and the outrageously naughty. And no, I’m not concerned about discussing such things in an open forum.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

8 thoughts on “Twitter : Open for Sexual Stalking?

  1. I completely agree Craig – and if you see the next article up in my blog, you’ll see that I really do. It’s about a woman who sues an ex-boyfriend for offering friendship to her on Facebook. Differing values cause most of the problems in the world today.

    And I think you agree with me. If there is a reporting mechanism- clear and defined – then lynch mobs aren’t needed to help regulate. See here for another example of unmoderated communities and what can happen.

    I’m not saying that oddfollow or stalkerwarning is right, just that it’s how the community is starting to wake up to the invisible audience. I’m here to see how this plays out 🙂

  2. creepy. Would you find it creepier if somebody was subscribing to your tweets via RSS and you didn’t know it?

  3. Interesting question and goes to the heart of control/non control and values of others.

    For me, the challenge of social networks is the online element.

    When we socialise offline, we tend to stick with the group we are comfortable with: our demographic. So I don’t have too many redneck ill-educated, homophobes at my dinner parties, for example 😛 If there’s any weirdos in my real life friends, I’m not aware of it.

    Online, we make basic assumption don’t we? About people sharing our values? Its a bit of a shock when the social walls come down.

    I’m pretty sure that there are people out there who Yahoo!Pipe or otherwise aggregate ALL my content (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, whatnot) for whatever purposes they wish. Competition, fantasy, *shrugs* beyond my control unless I go into paranoid lockdown mode.

    But when we trip over blatant examples of someone not acting with our shared values, we block them. If I find an RSS person subscribing to my tweets, I’ll unblock them. I regularly block and unblock RSS on Facebook. Again, we do what we can with limited tools.

    I ignore the invisible audience and stay focussed on those that become visible. Does that sort-of answer your question?

  4. Interesting post… I am shocked at both to be honest, but I guess it is up to the women or men who have been ‘followed’ to decide if they think it is acceptable.

  5. yep.I think women tend to think about these issues. Men are happy to put photos of their girlfriend, their home, their whereabouts etc all online. I can’t believe I even put photos of myself online. I know of women who had people rock up at their doorstep after meeting in secondlife, or Facebook “friends” asking them to run away with them. Spooky. Here’s another question – do you think your personal safety is compromised by having personal information online? (personally, I think not much more than having conversations with greengrocers, school teachers, people at work or any other person you meet – any interaction could be seen as a potential threat – or a potential connection)

  6. I’ve found numerous occurrences of these kinds of followers, and while I understand your concerns and believe this is a very important area that needs to be addressed in any community – personally I have trouble seeing this method as a good long-term solution outside of it’s immediate scope. What I see as shaming of others – potentially wrongfully without recrimination among the @oddfollow group on their part – and forming what could unnecessarily become a lynch mob – a pattern repeatedly seen when niche communities are formed without proper leadership to address these kinds of social ills – misses many bases.

    While I’m certainly no expert… from my perspective if you really want to get serious about these kinds of problems, asking the Twitter admin for tools like a plain and clean ‘report’ or ‘block’ user form with the option to include your reason for blocking and request for follow-up, would allow these kinds of issues to be filtered and addressed by a team of qualified (perhaps volunteer because of scale) community managers based upon priority. Managers who then take up these concerns with the problem users and mediate with the issuers. Managers with managers that liaise where needed with the authorities. Policing is only useful if it is enforced. It’s habits you want to change, not access controls; people find ways around those as wonderwebby partially highlights.

    I’d bet Twitter have a team already for monitoring blocks and in preventing spam they could expand upon for this.

    Ultimately though, identity becomes the real issue, something the authorities need to deal with every day, and Silky, you wrote a post about never handing control of your community to your community, so…

    Let the professionals do the managing of what the community reports to them, and make statistics of those reports public in order to keep the community in the loop… and on top of the qualified (volunteer) recruitment problem… and fund raising… and… community awareness…4333333333333333333333333333333333333333333

    lol. Puss just jumped on my keyboard for some attention and typed that! I think I need to police and retrain her bad habits… 🙂

  7. internet… a stalking platform! Stalking made simple…

    actually love, you just turn on “friends only” and Twitter puts a red padlock on it all 🙂 Just like I could turn this blog to “friends only”… Let’s make sure the dataportability guys don’t forget gated communities preferences hmmmm? 🙂

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