How to deal with harassment via iMessage?
September 4, 2013 8:36 AM Subscribe
Several people unknown to me (teenage girls, based on the content) have been group-texting me, an adult man, via iMessage sporadically over the past few months despite repeated explicit demands from me that they stop. How do I deal with this? At first it was just annoying but I am getting quite concerned.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (21 answers total)
The content of the messages went from odd silly nonsense (quotes from the movie Mean Girls, according to Google) and emojis to variations on "WILL YOU MARRY ME" over and over and, at one point, selfies (non-explicit thankfully).
I presume they have mistaken me for someone else - I often get email meant for at least a dozen other individuals at my email address, and the people texting me *are* using my email address, not my mobile number, to contact me via iMessage - but I have no clue at all who they are or where they are from. All I have are the email addresses they are using for iMessage.
I have explicitly said "I don't know who you think I am, but I'm certain you must have the wrong person by mistake. Do not contact me again, or I will have to report this as harassment for my own protection."
I have also flat-out said it was not appropriate for them to send me pictures, and I received no pictures since then.
This got an apology and a respite from texts in April, but they have been back at it again in several bouts... basically ever time I turn iMessage back on because I get sick of losing that functionality on my devices.
My policy is not to reply, except ocassionally to insist that they stop in no uncertain terms. Last night I said something like "I must not be who you think I am" and one of them said "you're not [my first name] [other last name]?" and I said I wasn't, but they still wouldn't leave me alone. I think they might no believe me; perhaps they think they are flirting with a friend and think he is trying to blow them off. I don't know.
My first thought was to block them, but apparently Apple has not implemented contact-level blocking in iMessage (but the next version of iOS will - maybe I just have to wait until then?). All I can do is turn off iMessage altogether, which I have done from time to time, but soon after I turn it back on I start to receive messages again.
Beyond the obvious annoyance of receiving unwanted messages, this is starting to disturb me in terms of how it could look to a third party. I guess I can understand teen girls acting this annoying way, but regardless of how their immaturity affects their understanding (or not) of the situation it is starting to make me paranoid. I have not deleted the iMessage log from my phone yet out of an impulse to keep the evidence (i.e. a record of me consistently telling them to leave me alone, and not engaging them in any conversation that is in any way inappropriate). But it seems like the only way to get it to stop as it becomes actual harassment might be involving authorities, who I presume would at least initially be suspicious of *me* being in contact with these teenage girls online (even though I have NO IDEA WHY they are texting me, and have repeatedly asked them to stop).
It's very frustrating, and I feel pathetic and at times even in a way pre-emptively victimized in a sense, in that I don't think I have any good recourse here. The laws in my country actually make this kind of repeated unwanted communication a crime (though teen girls are likely only to be warned for it), but I am not confident that I would not myself seem suspicious if I sought help from police in stopping it. Really, sir, these girls just started messaging you spontaneously? Yes, REALLY! In my imagination, this turns into a scenario where my phone is seized for at least a time, which is a big disruption to my work and life - perhaps a greater inconvenience than the harassing messages themselves.
What should I do?
Leave iMessage off until I can block these users? Try to report them in some way to Apple (Google suggests Apple doesn't even care about full-on stalkers, so this seems like a dead-end)? Report them to police to cover myself, but risk being investigated as a creep in the process? Try to engage them in a more detailed explanation of why they need to leave me alone (I'm worried about engaging them any further, adding fuel to the fire - nothing in the messages has been threatening so far, but I don't want to give them any ideas)?
Bonus points for answers from former teenage girls who've engaged in behaviour remotely like this before. I'm baffled and, as I hope you can tell, increasingly troubled.