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From the Forum – Online Harassment Lawyer?

by Prince Of Petworth June 25, 2014 at 2:10 pm 20 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

Online Harassment Lawyer?

“The irony of asking an online community for help in finding a lawyer to help me with online harassment, is not beyond me. Long story short I’ve got someone who’s making me very uncomfortable with a blog, twitter, and FB dedicated to pretty much hating me and my life. She’s stepped up her game and now has contacted me directly and to be honest I’m worried about my safety and sanity at this point. Does anyone have a lawyer they could recommend that takes these kind of cases on? I’m not sure what my options are but I’d love to talk to someone and see if I can at least get the blog/twitter/FB stopped. Any recommendations would be great!”

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  • Anonymous

    I don’t have an attorney to recommend but you may want to read The Gift of Fear immediately. It has an interesting take on the way that people who do this kind of thing react (and getting an attorney involved might make it worse). Sorry you’re going through this and good luck!

  • Anon

    I’m sorry I don’t know a lawyer to recommend, but I think your first step should be contacting the police. Her conduct may be criminal harassment, and if you worry for your safety you absolutely should get the police involved. Second, you don’t need a lawyer to directly reach out to FB, twitter, etc., to alert them to how she is using their sites and ask them to block those accounts. For example, here is Facebook’s instructions for reporting an issue: https://www.facebook.com/help/263149623790594. Good luck and take care!

  • Kyle P

    It depends. What did you do to her, or what transpired that drive her to this?

    • Anonymous

      +1. Not victim blaming, but I would like to know a bit more background before making any recommendations…..

  • So, just for everyone’s sake and information, a quick reminder that you cannot go after facebook, twitter etc. directly. Any lawyer who tells you otherwise is a crook after your money and run the other way. (I mean you technically CAN but you’ll be laughed out of court).

    What you can do is report the pages on facebook and twitter to twitter, facebook, etc. as personal defamation and hopefully get them to remove it. This has mixed results. Your other options are a restraining order against the individual, if you know who it is. You can try the slander/defamation route but… this is america and those aren’t handled very seriously by the courts. Just a reminder that any type of suit you try to bring against the individual should have an address the complaint can be served on. PIs and Process servers might be able to help you with that, but they’re not cheap.

    I am not an attorney! I just work for some, unfortunately in a slightly different field or I’d offer some recommendations.

    Good luck!

  • Anon

    Is there more to this story? Granted, there are few if any things that could justify such actions, but there must have been something, real or imagined, that instigated the behavior.

  • jim_ed

    to the OP: I am not a lawyer and won’t offer advice on that, but I will recommend this: If you have someone who could be potentially stalking you, you need to do a much better job of cleaning up your online footprint. Using what little information you posted in the forum, it took less than 2 minutes to find your facebook, linkedin, twitter, and various other personal information-giving things using google. If you think there is a legitimate chance someone might cause you harm, I would seriously implore you to google how to remove some of this information and cover as much as possible.

    • Anonymous


    • Anon

      Yeah. Just did the same thing. She’s pretty wide open to the world.

    • Anonymous

      I have a job that requires verifying people’s identities. (for legitimate reasons). Your information is very easily available. Protect yourself first before hiring a lawyer.

      I really don’t know how much a lawyer can do. I dealt with something this a long time ago, before there was any real process for dealing with this kind of thing at all. I changed my online id’s and stayed in virtual contact with a very small circle of people I was very sure of. I disengaged entirely with the person, who may have actually been multiple people working in tandem. I still don’t know.

      If you can track back how this started, be sure any contacts you have (IRL or virtually) who could have anything to do with this are completely trustworthy before sharing information. Make sure people you trust know not to give information out about you. This is not to make you paranoid, which is counterproductive, but follow your gut instincts. (That’s a big message from Gift of Fear.)

  • Anonymous

    I clicked on this link to tell you to read the Gift of Fear and someone smart beat me to it. There is a whole chapter on this. The first thing you need to do is disengage immediately. Do not respond to anything she lobs at you. But read that book this weekend.

    • textdoc


  • Anonymous

    I can tell you with absolute certainty you will not find a LEGITIMATE attorney who will take this case, but you will get offers from lots of frauds. The police MIGHT care but it’s unlikely because from what you’ve described there’s nothing yet considered actionable on her part. This is just an unfortunate circumstance of the way the laws are written.

  • Shrice

    Thanks for the advice all. I’m pretty wide open, because before this I’ve had nothing to hide. I don’t need or want to get into specifics as to why this person is doing this, other than to say I’m the victim of something I’m pretty sure I don’t deserve and I didn’t find them to be a stalker in my life because they met me online. They simply choose that to be their medium of harassment. Thanks to all of you for the suggestions and keep them coming. At this point, any help is great.

  • Kes

    Unless she is making specific, actionable threats or obviously factually wrong and defamatory statements, there is very little a lawyer can do for you. You can report abusive Facebook posts, Tweets, and blogs, but it is difficult to get those huge entities to pay attention to situations like this unless they blow up in a big way.

    The main things you can do on your own are:

    A) Block, block, block and disengage. Block their cell number, and if it seems warranted, change your own, and only give it out to people you know will not pass it back to her. Block both the Twitter & Facebook accounts they are using to target you, and block any clones that appear. Block her email address, or set up a special folder just for that email, and have a trusted friend check that content once every few months (just in case of specific threats, which are actionable.) For your own peace of mind, block and never, ever check back. Make it so their content is invisible to you online, even if you wanted to access it. Then tamp down your privacy settings to the absolute extreme. Let anyone who is familiar with this person or situation know that you are doing this and ask them not to bring up your stalker’s writings or activities, unless she does something that is a direct, specific threat to you. If she gets around these precautions, send her one specific statement, by email or text, to the effect of “Your behavior and attention make me feel unsafe. Please do not ever contact me again.” Keep it polite, detached and specific. Then Never, Ever respond again.

    B) Document, document, document. This is vital if you think this person might escalate. This is why you may want a “black hole” folder for their email rather than blocking it outright. It would help to have a trusted ally work on this with you, since it sounds like the material your stalker is putting out is very upsetting. Ask a close friend who is totally on Your Side to take screenshots of her hate-posts and take special notice of any implied or direct threats against you or your loved ones, pets, property. Keep this material. If she escalates, contact the police and explain you have a stalker who has made threats in the past and you are concerned they may be violent. Back this statement up with the material you’ve collected. Best case, they send an officer to have a talk with her, but at the very least it will help you get a restraining order, a copy of which will be sent to her, which may help her realize that she’s engaging in borderline criminal behavior, not just “online drama” or whatever.

    Captain Awkward, an advice blog, has a lot of good how-to’s on dealing with stalkers. This advice is a distillation of many things she has said. I would check out her material, since she covers situations like this a lot, and it will help you feel less alone. Sorry you are dealing with this.

  • Allison

    I’m not sure if this is similar to your situation, but this Reddit thread may have information that could be useful to you: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1hkeok/i_got_my_anonymous_cyberstalker_of_15_years/

  • I am an attorney. I do handle online defamation, fraud, and harassment cases for clients. If you contact my office, I’m happy to give you a free consultation.

  • sbc

    Depending on your relationship to this person, you might qualify for services through the Domestic Violence intake center, http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/domestic-violence-intake-center

    You don’t have to be living with someone for it to qualify as DV, but some relationships don’t qualify. talking to someone at DVIC could help you figure out your options.

  • Anonymous

    I’d direct my friends to her pages and encourage them to have fun.


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