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NC Woman Fights Back Against Cyber Harassment, Impersonation

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Twitter has a chat mechanism to report activity such as what Brzezinski is experiencing, but she says regardless of the time of day she tried, she was unable to reach anyone for help. (Brzezinski)
Twitter has a chat mechanism to report activity such as what Brzezinski is experiencing, but she says regardless of the time of day she tried, she was unable to reach anyone for help. (Brzezinski)
 By Stephanie CarsonContact
July 30, 2018

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – When Jaclyn Brzezinski in May found a stolen image of herself with her parents next to anti-Semitic text on social media, she had no idea at the time that was the tip of the iceberg of what has become a long and stressful journey.

Over the next few weeks, she received threatening messages, found a Twitter profile posing as her and even found interior and exterior photos of her home posted to her harasser's account.

Brzezinski says the impersonation runs deep.

"I've actually had people reach out to me and tell me that they were online dating with someone who was using my photos,” she relates. “I had one guy reach out to me and say, 'I've been in love with you for months.'"

"Doxing" describes online impersonation and defamation – just what Brzezinski is experiencing. She suspects she was targeted by white supremacists who mistakenly assumed her last name is Jewish, and found her because her jewelry business – Chrysalis Studios – has 19,000 followers on her social media platforms.

Brzezsinki is now seeking a change in state laws and action from Twitter.

Twitter claims "doxing" is against its terms of service but offers no way to report it. Brzezinski began reporting the harassment to Twitter and says she was unsuccessful getting her harassers' account taken down until she threatened to sue the platform.

"Twitter does not block IP addresses of offending accounts,” Brzezinski states. “So it's in their policies that you cannot make another account once they have suspended your account, however they do absolutely nothing to enforce it.

“So as soon as they delete your account, you can turn around two seconds later and make a whole new one."

Brzezsinki's story has caught the attention of North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who says his staff will look into the state's current cyberstalking laws and the ambiguity in them that she's experienced. Brzezinski also has started an online petition on Change.org.

"I've talked to three different lawyers, and they've basically all told me that North Carolina's cyberstalking laws are some of the weakest in the country, and so there's definitely room for improvement," Brzezinski relates.

A detective at the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department is working with Brzezsinki to file a court motion to force Twitter to provide the IP addresses of the accounts that have been impersonating and stalking her.

Reporting by North Carolina News Connection in association with Media in the Public Interest and funded in part by the Park Foundation.

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