Monthly Archives: March 2010

Zero Tolerance of Second Life Harassment

This post is primarily in reference to cyber stalking on the Secondlife platform.  If you’ve ever been the victim of a stalker in Second Life you’ll be able to relate to this post.  Being cyber stalked is a very unpleasant experience and one I had to endure for the best part of 3years.  My stalker was/is particularly viscous and she had a malicious agenda which involved harassment and bullying.  Unfortunately I had no idea how to handle the situation, I was intimated, my stalker is well known in the SL community, she’s an SLDEV, a Mole and Service Solution Provider as well as a prefab builder, as am I. Her objective was to remove her competition from the market by using intimidation tactics, her clique of cool kids and her lab afiliations to identify my alternative account.

My stalker became particually frightening, tracking down alt accounts, even contacting an alternative account and addressing her by my REAL LIFE first name, yes they can get that creepy. Fortunatly I would think most don’t have the access to Lab authorities that my stalker has.

Some stalkers are just plain annoying, others are intrusive and some are completely obsessive, depending on their objective.  The very nature of cyber stalkering makes it a grey area, a stalker can remain anonymous even undetected.   Particularly with a platform like Second Life where the stalker can simply create an alternative account.  My stalker recorded my IP address (which is against TOS and AR’able not to mention a banable offence) to track me and find out personal information about me.  She’s attempted to hack my computer(I have evidence of this), she’s even tried to contact my ISP provider and obtain my RL address, fortunately privacy of individuals here is closely guarded and she got nothing from them.

Some stalkers will go to extraordinary lengths to obtain information about you, for example, mine falsified DMCA take down notices to obtain my real life address, incredibly frightening stuff.  If a DMCA is filed against you, you have the right to counter file, but bear in mind the other person will obtain your real life identify and that includes your address.

Some people will advise you to speak with your local police authority, personally unless your stalker has threatened you and there is a physical risk to your safety, I feel there is very little point.  It is difficult to get assistance with real life stalkers let alone Second Life stalkers, so I’m not to confident about the chances of the police taking you seriously.  It is my opinion and mine alone, that the police will have little interest and possibly no influence as it is a civil matter.  Unless the stalker has tracked you into your real life and has made very real threats there is little they can do.  Unless the stalker lives in the same city or country as you do, it’s unlikely they pose any actual physical threat to you.  There is also the issue of jurisdiction and international boundaries, I live in New Zealand, my stalker lives in London, UK , there is little the police can do.  In extremely severe cases, the police may inform their foreign counterparts and they could be issued with a warning or restraining order in accordance to their own local law.

I have also heard people say you could contact your Stalkers ISP Provider, I can tell you that where I live, this would be entirely futile.  Where I live the privacy laws of individuals are extremely strict and my ISP provider would not release any information at all.  Nothing short of a court ruling would enable this to happen and it would have to be with very good reason. I am not ruling this out in other parts of the world, I am not familiar with the laws surrounding this in other countries and it may be worth pursuing depending on which part of the world you live in.

Having said that, I’d like to be clear that if there is danger and the stalker does have access to you in real life and you fear violence could be used against you, then do not hesitate to contact your local police.

The biggest mistake I made was to keep what was happening to me, to myself.  I let my stalker intimate me to the point where I left second life.  I deactivated my account, left all my inventory behind, and disappeared.  I don’t want this to happen to anyone else; I don’t want anyone to feel helpless in this situation.  There are steps you can take and I hope this is of some assistance to you.

 So what can you do;

Updated To Add:

Important, make sure you turn off media on your viewer and do not accept cookies.  My stalker uses a loop hole in the system to obtain IP addresses and personal information, she has harvested IP address of anyone who lands on her sim, she’s been using this since long before Redzone and RZ does not give users your IP address, it never has, even before the updated TOS.  So be careful out there, turn off your media, if you have a serious stalker they can track you this way. Options for this are found in preferences,  Control P on our keyboard.

  •  If someone is harassing you, your first step must be to AR them immediately, keep logs of IM’s and include them in your AR
  • If you own land ban them
  • Mute them immediately, do not respond to them under any circumstances.  Instruct your friends to ignore and mute if necessary
  • Log everything, emails and IM’s, take screen shots and keep evidence
  • If they send friends or alts to harass you, AR them and mute them too.
  • Talk about it, get some support from your friends. Make sure your support network knows you are dealing with this
  • Unfortunately you have to hide your groups, particularly any open registration groups.  Stalkers use these as a means of keeping track of your on line movements or to annoy you in group IM’s
  • If you blog, blog about it, let it be known, name the offenders, as long as this is outside the SL platform you are perfectly within your rights to do this.
  • If they are directing comments at you on forums, leave the forums, don’t read them and never ever respond to them
  • Give very little information about your real life to ANYONE in secondlife.  Don’t discuss your real life job, where you live, your real life name, even the names of your pets.  Seemingly innocent information can be enough to give a serious stalker a lead.
  • There are several anti stalker groups inworld you could join for support
  • Finally, if necessary you may wish to seek some legal advice regarding the laws on cyber stalking pertaining to your country

Unfortunately the steps you need to take to deter your stalker are unfair, why should you have to hide your groups and leave forums.  Because any response or opportunity you give them simply fuels their obsession, it’s about not giving them opportunity and making stalking you a boring pass time.  It’s sad but true and eventually the stalker will tire of you and move on, possibly and sadly to their next victim!

Sometimes there is consequence to the actions you take against a particularly obsessed or paranoid stalker.  I have ignored mine for the last 2 years, unfortunately she has now resorted to slandering me, she contacts people who post on my flicker page and people who review my products on the market place.  She has even convinced herself that I have befriended certain people to get closer to her. She believes that I know her in RL, she believes I have contacted her and her boss.  Her allegations are serious and could get her into a fair amount of legal trouble should I chose to pursue that avenue.  There is not much you can do about someone who is so utterly deluded & clearly in need of help.   I still maintain ignoring her and AR’ing her is the best stance I can take.

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