Cyberstalking Netflix thriller 'YOU.’

“He thought of the telescreen with its never-sleeping ear. They could spy upon you night and day..” George Orwell, 1984.

The sentiments of George Orwell have never been more accurate than of late.

Social media is part of the very fabric of our existence. With so many social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Google+, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, the majority of us document our lives daily.

Yet how many of us are fully mindful of what we post and the audience that views our posts?

Enter Joe Goldberg to show us...

For those ‘not in the know’, Joe is a character from the Netflix hit tv series You, which is an American psychological thriller based on novels by author Caroline Kepnes. With over 40 million viewers streaming the first series alone, this is one of the top Netflix tv shows.

“Who is Joe?” you wonder. Joe Goldberg is a bookstore manager-cum-serial killer. He spies a girl browsing in his store, and it’s love at first sight. What is his next move?

“Boy meets girl. Boy falls for girl. Boy obsesses over girl. Just how far will boy go to get girl?”

Joe casually learns her name from the credit card that she uses to buy her book and from there begins the obsession that nightmares are made of. With just one (granted, reasonably unique) name, he begins his quest to find out more about his new love interest, Guinevere Beck, who is the female lead.

Once home from work, he opens his laptop, searches for ‘Guinevere Beck’ via a search engine and voila! Joe remarks that “every account is set to public”. He feels she wants to be seen, heard, known so he ‘obliges’ by reading everything he can. Her birthplace, her siblings, her parents’ splitting, her education, nights out with friends and even a post about the book she bought from his store.

This is all researched in minutes. Copy and paste a picture of Beck moving into her new apartment into a search engine, and now he has her address too. In no time, he is standing outside, watching her dress. (Beck seems to be extremely careless about privacy in all aspects and appears not to like curtains either!) After some serious stalking and a drunken night out for Beck (in which she drops her phone), he manages to ‘rescue’ her and the said phone. He doesn’t return her phone, and her life has now become his!

Does it sound a little far-fetched? Really, it isn’t. Anything he can do on a computer, you can too. The information accessible through being lax with our privacy settings is phenomenal. We all have some (or a lot of) information on our social media platforms, such as:

  • Profile pictures
  • A friends list to view
  • Employment
  • Friends can see your likes
  • We tag where we have eaten, which film we’re watching and where
  • We tag who we are with more often than not
  • Concerts we enjoy
  • Our favourite reads and tv programs
  • Holiday snaps
  • Videos or memes we repost
  • Things that make us laugh or cry
  • We share our memories
  • We retweet things that are important to us, things we are passionate about
  • We post photos with filters that help us look younger or softer, or more fun
  • We may even post in Buy and Sell so now your address is made public!

The list is endless.

Every bit of us can be laid bare. You can read so much about a person by browsing through any of this information. Or it may be that by what you allow someone to see, you create a persona of how you would like to be observed. Either way, that information is there, and it is alarming how quickly it may be accessed.

Sera Gamble, co-creator of the show with Greg Berlanti told iNews:

“We are all voyeurs now. We flick through social media and see into each other's lives. We’re all exhibitionists. We’re all curating and putting forward certain aspects of ourselves for others to view. The fact that Joe uses social media to stalk his victims should be a warning to anyone who regularly posts their location online.

What can we do to stay safe online?

One of the first things to do is to to ensure that your privacy settings are activated. Your passwords should be a minimum of 8 letters long and should include a number and/or special character. Many of us use the same email addresses and passwords across various sites, so ensure the passwords differ. Otherwise, if hackers have one set of details, they have access to everything. Use a password manager. This is an app that creates and stores complex passwords for you.

Use biometrics if you can. This may be a fingerprint or iris recognition or more than one, also known as two-factor authentication.

Google yourself and see what comes up- this could be very insightful. Do this regularly to alleviate any concerns about your personal information that may crop up online.

Be wary of who you accept as a friend request or who you allow to ‘follow’ you.

Simply use common sense about what you reveal online, such as a home address, email address, passwords etc.

With your Notty Account, you get free McAfee security software with your Cybercare- be sure to install this on your PC or smartphone to protect it from viruses. With Notty, you also get a social profile of your Social Media Accounts. See who follows your posts the most and who likes them too!