Words With Friends, Twitter & Fear of the Internet

I love Words With Friends and I play everyday.  I have multiple games going, currently 19, and my highest scoring word is “WANKERS” for 102 points.  I know some of the people I play with because they are my friends or family.  I also play with a lot of my followers on Facebook and Twitter.  If you want to play you can find me at KeepingFaith7.

Most of the people I play are what Words With Friends refer to as “Random Opponent”.  My pet peeve is when people take a long time to play a game.  If you are going to take 5 days between words I’m not interested.  If you want to have long nonstop chats while we’re playing, I‘m not interested.  I like to say hi and will banter, but not a full on conversation.

I have a three strike rule when I’m playing.  If you take more than 2 days to play a word, more than 3 times, I will resign the game.  If you don’t play within 12 hours, I will nudge you.  Harsh? I guess.  It is only a game after all, but I really like it, enjoy playing, and when the games sit for days on end it is annoying, a waste of my time, and I want to move on.

The other day I was playing with a random opponent and their third strike came up.  I was waiting for them to take their turn so I could resign the game.  As I went to quit, I noticed there was a message from the player. When I read it I was a little shocked because it was not what I expected, and not anything I could have guessed would come.

The player wrote that he was only 10 years old and most days he has a lot of homework and can’t play.  He apologized for taking so long.  It was the cutest thing.  I wrote him back to take his time, homework was the most important thing, and we could play whenever he had time. It made me think about the other random opponents I was playing with.

After I heard from this lovely young man I approached things a little differently.  I said hello to random opponents and wished them luck on our game. You just never know who is at the other end and so one must be patient and assume they are regular people who just want to play. Then that thought was blown out of the water by “Oklahoma”.

The “man” was from Oklahoma.  Now I say man but who knows.  He could have been an old woman, or a young woman for that matter.  He could have been a prisoner allowed 10 minutes on the Internet, or some pimple faced teenager.  Whoever he was he decided to use our Words With Friends game as an opportunity to engage in some sexting.

Really?  I am going to play Scrabble with you while writing about sex?  That is not happening and it was shut down quickly. It truly makes you wonder about who it is you are dealing with online.  The world has never been smaller, or as frightening.  The Internet is a place of wonder, blessings, joy, and at the same time it is scary as hell. Truly.

Twitter for example, scares the crap out of me, and this week took a turn for the dangerous.  I get a lot of love on Twitter, and also a lot of hate. Writing about abortion, religion, sex, and reality television opens one up for criticism.  I try to take it all in stride, but it is hard.  Sometimes I hit a wall and want to lash out, which is ridiculous.

Someone who is mad at me about something I am a little unclear on, decided to post my home address and telephone number.  Shocking really.  It was an old address but still, it broke my heart.  I live with my teenage son and it freaked me out that someone would do such a thing.  After 24 years with the same phone number, I had to change it.

My entire adult life is connected to that phone number, and now it is gone.  I share my life here in an open and honest way when it comes to my experiences and emotions.  I write in an intimate way, but broad strokes when it comes to identifing details.  Everyone knows about my relationships, job, opinions, and views, but I do not use real names.

I have never written my child’s name, or my friends.  Everyone is given a different name except for my best friend Jel, and my father, of blessed memory.  I have written many times about the fact that I was the victim of a violent crime in Canada and my attacker served a long term prison sentence. My willingness to share comes from a good place.

It is not to get sympathy, or hits on a blog.  It comes from my relationship with God and my wanting to perhaps ease someone else’s pain.  From divorce to illness, from meeting prostitutes at the nail salon to conversations with homeless people, and being a Jane Doe, I have written it all and not been afraid because I am given much in return.

For someone to jeopardize my safety, and that of my child, is fascinating. They do not know me, but want to hurt me and put me in harms way because I think LeAnn Rimes is a whore, or that Bethenny Frankel is a liar.  What is going on in someone’s life that this is an option for their behavior?  I am a public figure I guess, but this is dangerous and unkind.

Today this random group of people on Twitter are writing about publishing my IP address, hacking into my accounts and personal information.  Really?  I can pretend to be tough and cool and not give a shit, but the truth is that my heart is broken. These women post pictures of their children next to pictures of me with a penis drawn over my face.

Yesterday I deactivated my Twitter account while I figured everything out.  I spoke with the police department both here in LA and Canada.  I changed my passwords, closed my online banking and business operations, spoke with the parole board associated with my attacker, and assured my child that Twitter is madness but he didn’t need to worry.

I have certainly lost my cool on Twitter.  Told a couple of people to fuck off, blew smoke up some lunatics ass by telling her I would call her boss to tell him she is using her work computer to harass me, and asked my followers to help me get people suspended for bad behavior.  Here’s the thing though, I have never put anyone or their families in danger.

I am a writer.  I have raised a son on my own, put him through 10 years of private school by myself, and will send him to the college of his choice on my own too.  I am single, dating, and confused about why it is so hard to meet someone decent.  I date, pray, dream, cry and think in a very public forum, and in return I am beaten down to where I can hardly breathe.

I am back on Twitter today, having taken care of things with the authorities. Twitter has not suspended the people who posted my personal information, are impersonating me, or using my image for sexually explicit imagery.  They have done nothing even though both myself and my employers at the Jewish Journal have filed complaints.  It is now with police.

To Twitter, I will publicly say consumers of your online service expect their private information to be kept private.  To be clear, your privacy policy states as such and FTC Laws require as much.  Pursuant to your online Privacy Policy data is captured through use of log data information gathered through user interaction with your services.

This includes information such as IP address, browser type, pages visited, location, mobile carrier, device and application ID, search terms etc. Furthermore, your Information Sharing and Disclosure clause, clearly states as follows: “We do not disclose your private personal information except in the limited circumstances, described here.”

The FTC is diligent in “ensuring that when companies tell consumers they will safeguard their personal information, the FTC can and does take law enforcement action to make sure that companies live up to these promises.” I am requesting, that you take appropriate and aggressive steps to ensure that my unauthorized personal information be protected

In terms of Twitter's JJpennysaver, wearingpjs35, ElseeG, and notilanaangel, I ask that you block their IP address from your inbound firewalls so that they are unable to return under a new ID and continue to cause security breaches. It’s not brain surgery, its just Twitter, and they are in violation of your rules so do your job already and take care of it.

Why would I write this and put it all out into a public forum when things are so fragile?  Because now people are watching and people know.  If something happens, people will see that hate fuels madness.  I am not going to be scared or bullied into giving up what I do by a bunch of cowardly women who do not use their real names or faces.  They hide behind hate.  

To these women I will say this, I’m sorry if I have crossed a line with you in a way that you felt attacked or threatened.  I really am.  I am asking you to please rethink your choices as my livelihood and my safety are being compromised.  Don’t follow me, don’t engage me, don’t write about me, and I will do the same.  Time to be grown ups and move on.

I am asking you as a mother to please stop.  If you want a public apology, you have one.  I am sorry. Please remove the pictures of me, stop with the imposter accounts, and realize that this is about more than disagreeing views on Twitter.  I will not mention you and we can move on. This needs to stop.  Please. I am asking you to leave me alone.

I am sad, but not broken.  I am grateful to the Jewish Journal for standing by me, wasting their time dealing with this garbage, and allowing my voice to be heard. To my son I say I love you madly and I will do anything and everything to keep you safe.  To those who read my columns and support my work and my voice, I thank you from the heart.

I will keep writing because it is my job.  I will keep sharing because that is what I do. I will continue to block crazy on Twitter, delete messages of hate on Facebook, hope that the headache I’ve had for the past three days will finally go away, and pray that one day all this drama won’t hurt as much, matter as much, or test my ability to keep the faith.