The idea that to be safe from online harassment a person has to make their account private is akin to the idea that to be safe from rape a woman should not walk home alone at night.
The problem is security in the system, not vulnerability in the user, so I’d been researching ways to safely (and publicly) interact online.
* * * I called the reporter who had originally informed me about the “prank” against my mother and asked him to give me all of the details he could.
The call came in to my mother’s local precinct, not 911.
It’s hard to get court-ordered documents to track people down for harassing online, and laws vary from state to state, so it’s necessary to know where the threat originated to know how to proceed.
She told me a bunch of very attractive young men in gear came to her house to look around.
She probably offered them wine, because that’s the kind of hospitable Southern mother I have.
Their armored vehicle arrived on my mother’s street at around ten at night and the SWAT team deployed, surrounding her house. I was well-versed in the mechanics of a prank like this, but that didn’t abate the anxiety attacks I was having.
My mother’s neighbors came out, some were confronted, and told to put their hands up in the air. * * * I’m a user-experience designer and design researcher for a very large technology company.