It all went downhill from there.
I wanted to get a free game of Fate. I wanted all the coupons that everyone else was raving about that were available on FaceBook. I wanted free coffee too! Lesson learned.
Initially, I signed up with a ten year old spam email address I use for various things. I went straight to privacy and put “Just Friends” and “Just Myself” in all of the settings. I then proceeded to change my email address to one that I use on a fairly regular basis for several years. Within a blink of clicking the save button, over 500 people I have known for various reasons popped up on my screen. This put me in the state of shock. Not knowing what my next step should be, I logged out immediately. I logged back in. I logged out. The faces of people of my past were still all over my screen. I logged out.
Finally I accepted just a couple of friendship invites from people I have known for a few years, and then logged out again. You can see where this is going. It very nearly drove me to drinking, but I did not want to waste one of the few times I do drink to be on FaceBook. They were not going to win this fight!
I got some advice from people, double checked my settings and by the end of the night, I felt fairly good with what I had done. Oh, look! A free FaceBook app for my iPhone! Why not? Apps are my little addiction. It prompted me for my cell phone number to use the service. This was almost understandable, so I entered it.
Meanwhile, I was accepting what seemed like endless invites to be my friend. Apparently, the social end of the site runs off people you know and people they know, bringing you all together. I don’t know you, but you do know my childhood friend. You must be okay. Accept? Click. Before I knew it, and all within an hour of opening the FaceBook page, I had over 30 friends and only a few were friends of friends.
My phone rang.
No one is there.
Texts from a strange area code started filling my phone. Someone I did not know wanted to take me to dinner. IGNORE. Even more calls from this number and double the texts. I ignored them, all of them. Apparently, when I entered my number for this nifty iPhone app, a friend of a friend got my number off the website. How can this be? I clearly put that “Just Me” could see my number.
I went back through the settings on the website in a great panic. They were all set correctly to my knowledge. I researched in the in the “Help Center” at FaceBook. Everything seemed to be okay on my end. Then it occurred to me. The iPhone settings may be different. Sure enough, I found a settings menu in the iPhone app. I did not put “Just Me” this time; I completely removed my number and put “Just Me”.
I will block and ignore this strange man and everything will be back to normal. I can start collecting the coupons and free things from FaceBook. I won.
The phone rang again.
It had the same area code but a different prefix. IGNORE. He was calling from different phones hoping I would pick up.
It was too late for any settings I may have fixed. This person had my number and was relentless in his chase of me. He called for 4-5 days non-stop every two hours. I do not joke. I have showed these records to people. He sent texts between each call and voicemail.
As the days went on, his voicemails became more and more disturbed. He claimed he was going to kill himself. I had 20 minutes to call back or he was going to die. He was going to put my name and address, which he claimed to get off a friend, in a note so the police can arrest me for murdering him. He wrote my name in blood in the wall and made it look like someone had brutally slain him. He would call back after every threat and apologize. It was a rollercoaster of voicemail madness.
I called the police.
He was gone for almost 36 hours, no more calls.
He went to jail. He got out of jail. Massachusetts, where he resides, holds a 2 ½ year sentence for harassment like this. It holds an even longer sentence for threats.
He got out of jail and called me. He had his Mother called me. She clearly did not know we didn’t know one another as she claimed “he deeply loved me and he needs me to call”. He left voicemail after voicemail of delusion and manipulation trying to play on my emotions since I am a Nurse.
He also worried that our mutual friend would be mad. DING! Lightbulb! I sent the voicemails to our mutual friend. He will never be looked at the same again.
I have not had any calls since I handed out voicemails, copies of the call records and texts to everyone I could think of. This can play out as a good thing or it could piss him off. We will see.
Moral of the story? Free is never free. FaceBook has too many loopholes for people to get your personal information. Please check and double check your settings on ANY social site if you are not a public figure or you value your privacy in any way. Take it from me, there are some really mentally deranged people out there just waiting for a window to crawl in.
Yes, I am still on the site. Don’t ask me why. Okay, because I still haven’t got my free coffee.
NOTE: Voicemails did not copy over to this new website, but I really want to find a way to share them because if I can teach anyone anything, this would be the outlet and those scary voice mails would be the way in.