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Monday, February 13, 2012

Facebook Creepers

You try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt. You try to be friendly and welcoming to people you don't know. You try to be a nice, good person. Then someone comes along and takes advantage of all these qualities for some twisted pleasure of their own.

This didn't happen to me, but to a friend of mine from my young single adult ward. A guy - "Clark" - messaged her on Facebook, saying he had a spiritual impression that he needed to give her a message. If there's one way to a single LDS girls' heart, it's by saying you're "impressed" to talk to them, I fell for it in high school, I fell for it again when my friend showed me the message this guy sent her. It sounded like he was just being a nice, spiritually aware guy.

Clark proceeded to tell her all sorts of things about him - his wife died in childbirth, he's a single dad raising a 14-month year old girl called Sadie, he is a quadruplet and has 11 sisters, he speaks 8 languages fluently, he's a pilot, he's a seminary teacher, he has two Masters degrees, etc, etc. Sounds like the perfect guy, right? It's hard to find nice, single, attractive, Mormon men (even in Utah where they supposedly hang out). He was flirting up a storm too - very flattering. I was skeptical of the guy, but I wanted him to be real for my friend's sake. She has spent a long time being single, wanting to be married. She has done everything right and deserves an amazing guy like this one.

Well, she told her brother about the situation and he volunteered to do some internet sleuthing for her, and found this:

Over forty girls reporting to have received identical messages from "Clark." He uses the same spiritual impression to manipulate girls into flirting with him and agreeing to meet him. It looks like he never actually shows up for the meetings or actually does anything but talk to the girls, so he can't be arrested for anything. And every time a girl finds out who he is, he deletes his Facebook and starts all over. He creates multiple accounts, posing as Clark, Clark's sisters, Clark's seminary students, etc. In a nutshell, he's a creeper with no life of his own.

My friend was quite hurt initially - embarrassed that she fell for it, sad that her hopes of a decent guy being interested in dating her were dashed. I was angry. But now we both just feel bad for "Clark." It's sad to think of the kind of person you would have to be to do this - the kind of life you must be living to want to escape it so badly. It's just like the movie Catfish (See it!).

Anyway, there were a lot of red flags with Clark that should not have been overlooked. So here I give some good tips for Facebook safety:

1. (The most important) NEVER ADD SOMEONE YOU DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW. I can't think of a more simple way to avoid stuff like this. Simple.

2. Never put your address or phone number online for anyone and everyone to see. If you must, use a private message.

3. If you still feel the need to use Facebook as a dating site (even though you shouldn't), remember this: anyone who seems outwardly too perfect - no flaws, speaks 8+ languages, etc. - is probably hiding something big, like...say...another identity. Just be careful, people! Do your research! Snoop a little - it's okay if it's protecting you.

I love Facebook - I have chatted with some old elementary schools buddies that I haven't seen in years through it. I've made some good connections. But everything good has a bad side, and this Creeper Clark is a perfect example. Just be careful, okay?

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