|The importance of privacy|
|Written by Daily Vidette Editorial Board|
|Sunday, 17 April 2011 19:42|
College student stalks faculty members, peers
ISU is a pretty safe campus. The students and faculty who go here are lucky enough to experience very little crime around the university. However, this does not mean everyone affiliated with the university is mentally stable. In an age where the Internet makes it extremely easy to find out nearly anyone’s personal information, it can be a little scary. Especially after reading stories like the one last Wednesday in Nicholls University’s student newspaper, The Nicholls Worth.
Preston Stock seemed like a normal college kid. A freshman, Stock joined the Nicholls Worth as a staff writer and was also part of the math club. However, two professors and a fellow student started to get friend requests via Facebook under the name “Jamie Jackson.”
Like most of us probably would, the three accepted “Jackson’s” friend request and then the harassment began. Stock, posing under the pseudonym, began sending “both threatening and sexually harassing messages” via Facebook, according to the Nicholls Worth article.
Instead of contacting the police first, one of the professors, again, did what most of us would do, and simply blocked “Jackson” from their account. However, Stock created another false account and sent the professor this extremely disturbing message: “For every week and a half you do not contact me, one of your Facebook friends will die, starting with your precious little students. Let the games begin.”
It was at this point the professor contacted university police and they were able to, thankfully, figure out where the messages were coming from before anything happened. To make things even creepier, it turns out Stock had actually written two stories for The Nicholls Worth about the professors he was stalking that semester.
Nobody knows for sure what intentions Stock had, or if the 18-year-old just has an extremely twisted and sick sense of humor. Regardless, Stock has been banned from campus and three misdemeanor charges of cyber stalking have been filed against him.
The point of this editorial is not to frighten anyone and again, we are lucky to live on a very safe campus. Be that as it may, this is a lesson we all should learn. If someone you aren’t familiar with sends you a friend request on Facebook or some other social networking site, do not accept it. Even worse is not having privacy settings secured, which, unfortunately, seems to be rather common among students.
Without privacy settings, anyone can view an account, find out someone’s birthday, someone’s likes and dislikes, who they are dating, what their major is, where they live, etc.
It is extremely easy to change privacy settings. Simply log in, click “Account” and click “Privacy Settings.”
Also, just be cautious in general. How many times as students have we been arranged in groups for a project with people we don’t know and then add them as friends in order to stay in touch for the project? Now these people, who are essentially complete strangers, know everything about you. Stick with e-mail. It’s more professional, anyway.
Furthermore, if anyone does receive a threatening message, whether it is from a complete stranger or an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, do not just block them. Contact the university police immediately. In situations like these, it is better to overreact than to under react.
One more thing: for professors, unless a student is extremely important to you, like a T.A., it is probably not a good idea to add students as Facebook friends. According to the article, one of the professors accepted the request because Stock told them they were going to be enrolling in one of their classes. This seems a little strange to us.
We know this is cliché but it is cliché for a reason…it’s better to be safe than sorry. The full article about Stock can be found on the newspaper’s website, thenichollsworth.com under news.