Chasing a Ghost

Posted: October 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

I recently came across an article on a 15 year old girl from Newark, New Jersey who had  fallen victim to cyber bullying. For three years, Nafeesa Onque had endured the embarrassment of one of her peers creating  fake social media accounts pretending to be her. This individual befriended all of her family, friends and associates via the various social networks and would post various inappropriate stats such as ones with sexually explicit content. The imposter would even pick fights with some of Nafeesa’s associates. Because the imposter had done such a good job imitating Nafeesa’s social networking accounts, one of Nafeesa’s peers the imposter insulted online, even approached Nafeesa and hit her in the face not knowing Nafeesa was being harassed by an anonymous person. Needless to say, Nafeesa and her mother were at their wits ends trying to figure out who the person was, why they were doing this and how to stop them.

What blows my mind is the amount of dedication the bully exhibited in attempting to destroy the victim’s image. The tactics used entailed uploading sexually explicit stats and sending offensive messages to Nafeesa’s entire network.Nafeesa, a popular and social cheerleader, began to withdraw from all social events because she did not know who she could trust.

There were a few steps Nafeesa and her family had taken to end the stalking. One of which was refusing to remove her real Facebook profile because she did not want the tormentor to completely take over her digital life and “win”.

As earlier mentioned, Nafeesa’s mother also regularly reported the fake profiles to the websites’ administrators who would then have them removed due to their offensive content. This solution was only temporary as another website would be created in a matter of days. Nafeesa then was bounced around between various agencies before coming to the desk of a 10 year veteran of the New Jersey State Police’s digital Technology Investigations Unit. Sgt. Allen handles many cases on cyber bullying but the severity of Nafeesa’s stood out to him. Sgt. Allen hunted all of the phony profiles and was finally able to find the impersonator’s internet protocol address. The aggressor was apprehended and admitted her jealousy of Nafeesa’s popularity.

The primary aspect of what makes digital aggression so attractive to bullies is the level of anonymity one can maintain while exhibiting damaging behavior. Social networks  allow  users to be anyone and anything they want to be; the sky is the limit, and because social media is meant to be public, the audience is virtually endless. This is what makes it so challenging to report and combat cyber aggression. You don’t really know who you are looking for as the cloak of anonymity is effective. Its like chasing a ghost. Luckily for Nafeesa, her and her mother’s persistence is what ended her nightmare. She did not remove her real Facebook page and give in to the fake ones. Her mother made sure to report each incident to Facebook or MySpace administrators to have the offensive pages removed and these reports were documented. These actions combined with the diligence of Sgt. Allen’s search for the ip address is what caused Nafeesa to triumph in the end.

  1. rtpssudan says:

    It’s sad that social media sites are becoming a breeding ground for bullying behavior. Thanks for sharing Nafeesa’s story.


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