Okay, so that might be a bit…misleading. I needed to reopen my account as part of an investigation by an electronics and technology expert my friend who is a police chief uses on high profile cases.
Yes. You read that right. My online presence is being investigated by an expert who works on high profile cases.
In late June we were notified that our next door neighbor was registered as a sex offender. He was serving a 90-day sentence for two counts of sexual assault with a child and two counts of aggravated sexual assault with a child. As I understand it, there were two children involved, two counts each. Yes. That is CHILD. As in under the age of 14.
Honestly, that didn’t throw me much. Registered sex offenders are everywhere. Unregistered sex offenders are even more common. It’s life. I’m not losing sleep over it.
What concerned me, though, were some comments he made when we were talking last fall.
I said something about my quiet time on my patio, and he said, “Oh, I see you. You don’t see me, but I see you. Even when you’re are sleeping, I see you.”
Not sure what he was expecting as a reaction, but I just stared him in the eyes. Sexual predators like to intimidate. I don’t intimidate easily, but I’m not stupid either.
I contacted the police folks I know. None of them knew how to do an electronics sweep, nor did they know whom to ask. I contacted military friends. One of them, who treats my family as his own, texted back to contact a spy shop and found the best one in my area for me.
I also texted my firearms instructor, who served in the Marines, told him the story, and asked if he knew how to get an electronics sweep done of my house. He contacted our mutual friend who is a police chief, who then contacted me and said, “Call (person). He’ll treat you like family. We’ll take care of this.”
As part of the sweep, this man has been investigating my online presence to see if I left any holes that could make the kids or me easy targets. If anyone wants to get information on us, they would have to dig pretty deep, if they found anything at all.
A few months ago I hurt someone’s feeling by deleting her post where she asked about my kids by name. I explained publicly that I do not use their names on Facebook or other media because of issues that arose after their dad died. Most people were very supportive. A few seemed to think I was being overly protective and needed to chill.
So, now that I look a big wiser, let’s review why I take the precautions I do again.
Let me give you an example of what someone can do with Facebook.
I randomly wandered through my friend’s friends lists, and I picked people at random and wandered their pages. If I could, I wandered their friends’ lists. In 9 out of 10 tries, their posts and information were wide open for anyone who wanted it, so I looked. Let me tell you a bit of what I found out.
One young lady in her 20s was married last year. I know where she got married, where she went to college, what she does for a living, and because she posted the picture of her lovely car, I was able to get her address by running the plates. Oh, and I know her husband travels often with this job. In fact, she posts regularly when he is gone. I also know she is anti-firearms, and they have a cat but no dogs.
Does it get any easier than that? I mean, really?
Then I checked my “do you know this person” feed. This is a man I have no contact with, no mutual friends with, but because he is in an area where a cluster of my friends are, he showed up as a “do you know him”. I didn’t, but I do now.
I know he has two sons. Both of which are in little league. I know is dating a lovely lady, and from the posts, it is getting serious. I know where he works, where he went to school, his employment history. I know on Friday nights when he doesn’t have the kids, he and the GF have a particular bar they like to visit and stay at until well after 11:00. I also know he is working on a bike that he is either restoring or fixing in his garage. He posted a picture of it…that also showed the other three that he custom did. Oh, speaking of pictures. His sons are DARLING!!!! And you know what, now that I’ve read through all his check-ins and know his routines and his favorite sports team, I bet if I met one of those precious little guys, I could give them enough information to convince them that I know their daddy really well and something has happened and he needs me to take them to him.
Hit a nerve there? I hope so.
But the one I really liked was the mom who was evidently was trying to make an embarrassing point by posting the pictures of her teenage daughter…in the cheerleader outfit, in her pajamas, in the belly top and daisy dukes, in the tank with the bra showing and the shorts showy her rosy cheeks. Get the picture yet?
Obviously that mother was trying to make a point, and if a sexual predator ran across those, I can promise you a point was made, and do I need to tell you what that predator was doing with that point while he stared at pictures of her teenage baby? Follow me?
Disgusted? Me too. In fact, if I had been friends with that momma, I probably wouldn’t have been when I was done telling her just what I thought of those pictures and the obvious fact her daughter’s lack of maturity and character is clearly directly inherited from her mother. As it was, I couldn’t say anything without seeming…creepy, so I just wandered back to my Facebook page and ventured down someone else’s friends list.
Oh, and by the way, I did all of this—easily more than a dozen accounts—in a few hours.
Let me tell you what I looked for.
Because some days I’m tired of being me and think being someone else might be nice:Name
Pictures of their cars or houses with address numbers
Spouse’s name, even ex-spouses or deceased ones
In case I want to drop by…when they aren’t home:
Family members’ pages because they often mention family they are with
Any post that mentions a vacation
Anything that gives me an idea of their routine
In case I want to find them, but they aren’t really open to it (i.e. stalking sounds so ugly):
I checked comments by friends and family that might mention them.
I looked for tags in photos from other people’s lists.
I looked for any possible “backdoor” to information on them I could find.
Feeling violated yet? Thinking I took liberties that were not mine to take?
Well, let me fill you in. I didn’t do anything illegal, and I took liberties I had every right to take because these people left them out for me to have. I didn’t break codes or hack anything. I took information that was totally available to ANYONE who wants it. I happened to want it to make a point. Not everyone else is so nice.
Do I have your attention? Good.
In my next post, I’ll tell you some ways to avoid being a star on my posts like this one…or some predator’s easy hit list.
Y’all be safe.
And it's good to see you again. :-)