She’s got your back

Jonathan D. Septer

I’d like to introduce you to Molly. Molly is a commuter student here at Kent State, and she is afraid.

Molly received a letter at her home that stated, “I am watching you.” The letter bore no stamp or return address, but this isn’t why Molly is afraid.

Molly’s father soundly advised her to remove her name and picture from MySpace and Facebook. He even attempted to scare her by reading the fast-growing number of newspaper accounts about Facebook and MySpace incidents.

To an extent, Molly complied. She retained her Facebook account because she uses it to “keep in touch with long distance friends.” Then she was contacted on Facebook by the person she assumes sent her the anonymous letter. This man told Molly he saw her picture in a friend’s Facebook list and “wanted to get to know her better.” She responded in an attempt to discover who their mutual friend was, but Molly’s mystery man avoided her questions and asked where she was and what she was doing. His on-line information listed him as a student at Kent State, and Molly managed to confirm this. The man said he was in Bowman Hall during their online conversation, but this isn’t why Molly is afraid.

After that Molly received another anonymous note in her mailbox. In this note the man said, “(he) saw and liked (Molly’s) picture.” The only picture Molly can think of that some random person could see is her Facebook picture. This further solidified her suspicions about the online encounter, but even this isn’t why Molly is afraid.

Why is Molly afraid?

She fears this could happen to one of her peers. That’s right, Molly has a creepy stalker, and her biggest worry is you. Molly is a hero, and if you know her, thank her. She’s the reason this information is here.

These are the facts Molly wants you to know:

Restrict your access for information on Web sites like Facebook and MySpace to people you trust.

Be wary of the information you post to these sites.

Be aware of the fact that Kent State posts your e-mail address and telephone number in the online student directory.

Sometimes your parents know what they are talking about.

Apparently there is no one with the forethought to restrict access to student information in the interest of student safety. This information can be accessed by anyone at any time in just a few moments. You don’t need a user I.D. or a password to get to it either. All you need is a computer, and you can have the e-mail address and telephone number of any student on the Kent State campus who is unaware they have to restrict their own information that the university puts there in the first place.

According to the Kent State Web site, the online directory was “created for the convenience and use of KSU students, faculty and staff. The university discourages commercial use of the information contained in this database, as such use will ultimately result in students, faculty and staff restricting the publication of their information on this site.”

That makes me feel safe. How do you feel?

Jonathan D. Septer is a senior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].