Editor’s Note: Information contained in this story is disturbing and alarming. Jaclyn asked that we publish it without redacting the slurs she has endured. We will be sharing her story in a three part series to raise awareness about NC anti-cyberbullying laws and to highlight one young woman’s determination to fight back.
Our staff has had multiple conversations with Jaclyn and tell you that while she is a victim of significant online harassment, she has empowered herself to AdvaNCE change. Over the next three days, you’ll understand how, and what you can do to join her fight.
I have recently filed a report with the FBI as federal laws better protect against cyberstalking crimes than the laws of NC and since these crimes cross state lines. All Twitter accounts and personal information I have been able to gather on the 7 people involved in my stalking have been turned over the FBI.
I also reached out to State Senator Jeff Jackson who was kind enough to personally call me in regards to my case and NC cyberstalking laws. Senator Jackson said that he and his staff will be looking into these North Carolina laws and the official statement he gave me is as follows: “If there’s any genuine ambiguity in our laws that repeated harassment is not permitted via social media, we need to clarify that. That is certainly the intent of the existing statute, but if that’s not how it’s being interpreted then we need to fix that to make absolutely clear that our criminal laws prohibit that kind of conduct.”
On July 3rd, 2018, actor Seth Rogen called out Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for verifying white supremacists on twitter and allowing Nazis to harass people on his platform. Seth tweeted: “I’ve been DMing with @jack about his bizarre need to verify white supremacists on his platform for the last 8 months or so, and after all the exchanges, I’ve reached a conclusion: the dude simply does not seem to give a f–k”. The post has been favorited 158k times and retweeted 37K times. A Daily Mail article on the subject can be found here: https://dailym.ai/2N6N8Fh
For the last month, a hate group has terrorized me. This has affected my life tremendously and taken a huge emotional toll on me. It has been difficult to focus on my work. There have been times that I have been scared to leave my home. This cyberstalking has not only affected me, but has rippled out to frighten and deeply upset my friends and family we well. I have been so incredibly let down and disappointed in CMPD for their inability to protect me and unwillingness to help, the NC justice system for their lack of clear and concise cyberstalking laws to protect their citizens, and in Twitter for their negligence and complicity in my stalking and harassment. Although unfair, white privilege is a fact of life in America and I’ve been conditioned by it and benefitted from it my whole life. Due to being caucasian, I never expected to be the target of racially motivated hate speech and harassment. I cannot imagine what it must be like for minorities who have to deal with this sort of racism and harassment their entire lives. As much as this anti-Semitic hate speech about me and my family has upset me, I know the pain would be multiplied immensely if my family and myself were actually Jewish.
One of the most frustrating aspects of this whole ordeal has been the assumptions made by the people who hear my story, including the police. I have received a lot of comments such as “Wow, who did you piss off?”, “Looks like you made someone really angry”, “Do you have a crazy ex?”, “Do you have any enemies?”, “Have you been fighting with people online?”, and so on. Many times, these people seem to think they are helping by offering ideas of why this could be happening to me, when in reality it is a form of victim blaming. In a “Psychology Today” article from 2013, Dr. Juliana Breines writes, “Victim blaming is not just about avoiding culpability—it’s also about avoiding vulnerability. The more innocent a victim, the more threatening they are. Victims threaten our sense that the world is a safe and moral place, where good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. When bad things happen to good people, it implies that no one is safe, that no matter how good we are, we too could be vulnerable. The idea that misfortune can be random, striking anyone at any time, is a terrifying thought, and yet we are faced every day with evidence that it may be true.” During these past few weeks, I have experienced first hand how people would rather believe that you must have done something to incur harassment rather than to understand that this could happen to anyone, including them.
The digital age in which we live, combined with the explosion of social networking, have greatly enhanced our connectivity to one another. Reaching out and connecting with strangers is easier than ever before in human history. However, with this ease comes the necessity to protect ourselves from uninvited harm committed by nefarious users across the internet, cloaked and shielded by the protection of anonymity.
NC General Statute 14-196.3 on “Cyberstalking” (NCGS14-196.3) states “it is unlawful for as person to electronically mail or electronically communicate to another person repeatedly, whether or not conversation ensues, for the purpose of abusing, annoying, threatening, terrifying, harassing, or embarrassing any person”.
North Carolina has some of the weakest Cyberstalking laws in the country. In speaking with a lawyer, I have discovered that “NC General Statute 14-196.3 on Cyberstalking” DOES criminalize communications across all electronic platforms that are made to harass or threaten citizens. While NCGS14-196.3 should reasonably imply that social media be included under “electronic communication”, it does not explicitly reference “social media” by name. Therefore, police departments are having trouble understanding and upholding this law, as they believe it to only apply to electronic mail (email). NC’s Cyberstalking laws are in desperate need of clarification and strengthening. Moreover, law enforcement personnel across North Carolina appear to be unfortunately ignorant of the very laws they’ve been called to enforce, believing that cyberstalking requires actual threats of physical violence or financial harm committed upon the victim. The state of North Carolina needs to inform their law enforcement personnel that they have been empowered to bring criminal actions against individuals who engage in the unwarranted harassment of others across all social media platforms.
I have created a Change.org petition asking the NC General Assembly to strengthen NC Cyberstalking laws by: (1) Adding a clarification for “social media” to NCGS14-196.3, (2) Adding a clarification for “doxing” to NCGS 14-196.3; and (3) Providing greater training to NC police officers on criminal offenses according to the laws of North Carolina, especially in regards to NC General Statute 14-196.3 so that they may take all threats of stalking, harassment, and harm seriously. Hopefully, the more people that stand up to cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and hate speech, the sooner we can see our laws catch up to the current technological age and the crimes associated with it.
To view and sign my Change.org petition on strengthening NC Cyberstalking laws