Ladies! Here's how to unmask that "anonymous" Twitter creep!
This is a beginners' guide. Use it wisely, queens.
My girls, my ladies, my absolute divas — is a disgusting man threatening you on Twitter? If they didn’t set up their account *specifically* to threaten people in general, chances are, you can find out who they are.
(Burner accounts of experienced stalkers can be, in my experience, much harder to trace — but thankfully, a lot of jerks on Twitter are simply stupid)
Here’s are some first steps that will help you embody one of my favorite movie quotes:
(Seriously, how funny is that scene?)
Archive everything. This is really important. The douchebag tweeted about wanting to rape and kill you? Go ahead and use archive.is to MAKE SURE HE CAN’T GET AWAY WITH IT AFTER HE DELETES.
Look at that leakage! This isn’t a PSA about the side-effects of certain medications, it’s information you can glean from trying to log into their Twitter account from incognito mode. Punch in their username and a random password (how funny would it be if their password was “Password123,” tho? Remember, a lot of people are that dumb — also remember, your goal is not to actually gain access), then tell Twitter that you “forgot” the password, and it will show you a couple of digits of a phone number and a somewhat masked e-mail. Save this information for cross-referencing purposes later.
If you’re using a VPN, please note that Twitter might get weirded out by that during this process.
Whom did they follow first? Who followed them first? When people set up “anonymous” accounts, they will frequently still follow their friends online. If they’re following a lot of people, you may have to do some scrolling, but it’s worth it.
Look out for accounts that don’t have generic appeal. They follow ESPN? *Yawn* Oh, but they also follow someone named SuzyArnold1958 who lives in Cleveland and occasionally posts pictures of her grandkids? That just might be your way in.
Find people like Suzy, who stand out. Find them on Facebook. Start cross-referencing their Facebook friends with information you’ve gleaned about your nasty troll. And speaking about that information:
Looks for clues that will narrow down your search. Have they tweeted angrily at a more obscure public official? There is a chance that they’re that person’s constituent or former constituent. *Boom* that’s a digital breadcrumb trail for you to follow.
Do they reference high school or college sports? Places they’ve lived before? Did they tweet about their birthday? Cool! All of these are helpful in identifying the shady bastard. Keep that information handy as you explore more about Suzy, and Becky, and Pattie, and any other people whose other public social media profiles you are able to view. Has he tweeted about the Bruins a lot? Oh look, Suzy is friends with some young men who do quite a bit of posing in Bruins shirts…. See what I mean? This is how you can get closer to your goal.
Search his dumb user name across multiple platforms. People recycle usernames a lot, and they’re often sloppy about deleting old accounts.
Even if he deleted his stupid old Instagram, for example, chances are, it’s been referenced somewhere else, on one of those weird sites that pull information from Instagram.
Use his sloppiness and how the internet doesn’t let things die against him.
Run a reverse-image search on the asshole’s photos. If he has them, they can be helpful. For my money, Yandex is still the best tool for this, but remember, the options in this field are always changing. Look at a former colleague’s old guide to understand it more.
Geolocate the shit out of his photos while you are it. A I keep pointing out, again and again, geolocation is not some Dark Art. It can be fairly easy. If people can do it to me, you can do it to the creep. All you need are some basic starting points and a good grasp on the process of elimination.
Don’t get cocky. The hunt for a threatening jackass can be absolutely intoxicating. Here is my favorite recent cautionary tale about what happens when the internet gets it terribly wrong. Remember, you want to do good here.
Run your research by someone else if you have even the slightest bit of doubt. No woman is an island. Reach out to those you trust to see if the dots connect. Don’t go for someone who will automatically want to affirm you! Your best friends in this quest are those who will criticize you if need be.
Don’t be a vigilante. Great, you found him and you are absolutely, 100% sure. Now what? Let his employers know that he is threatening you. Or his school administrators. Or hell, his parents. Consider filing a police report too — the cops aren’t always helpful right off the bat, but it’s good to have that paperwork on file in case he ever decides to escalate. Either way, be smart. Doing anything illegal or untoward with the information you gathered defeats the purpose.
Don’t make innocents suffer for his behavior. Are there, potentially, children living in his household that you are tempted to doxx? They are not to blame for this. An ironclad rule of investigating an asshole is this: Innocent bystanders should not get dragged into it. This is why this absolute legend obscured certain details from her tweet. She gets it.
“Speaking of innocents! Goddammit, Natalia! Bad people could use your guide to do bad things!” Believe me, I know. But this genie is already out of the bottle, and we can’t stuff it back in. And frankly, the internet creep community has been USING THESE METHODS TO HUNT AND HARASS PEOPLE FOR YEARS.
Knowledge is a weapon. Many bad people are armed with it. So arm yourself too, girl. You deserve it.
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