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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Hill

Publicly Autonomous (Part 1 So You Can Read Less)

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I just felt like collaging this, the scammers don't have these photos.

On the morning of Thursday, September 1st, I woke up to a text message from my best friend John. He had sent a screenshot of a fake Instagram account that had been created under the guise that it was my secret account that you could reach out to in order to see “my dark side.” As a Scorpio Stellium, my “dark side” is just me brooding on an angry power-walk through my neighborhood with a lit cigarette I don’t actually smoke and this tends to happens about 1 or 2 times a month.

The account was disgusting for a lot of reasons. First of all, the font choice. Hot fuchsia backed by baby pink!? And as if I’d ever opt for blocky text with italics? Not in this day and age. (But maybe in 2033.) But of course, it’s also disgusting that this fake account was attempting to lure in my followers and make them believe that through financial interaction, they could obtain naked and/or suggestive photos of “me.”

I should inject here with the classic PR clarifier: in no way am I shitting on sex workers, or anyone who consensually sells their photos, videos, socks, hair, whatever. You go fellow skeleton incased in flesh! It’s not for me, my neuroses, and/or life plan, but I respect anyone’s hustle to get food on the table while putting aside the extra for a Birkin.

Had I been any younger than the age I am now, I would’ve spiraled into an anxiety panic about this kind of account, but I was amused. I felt like I had entered a level so many of my internet-famous peers sat on: Scam Account Creation Level! I had already joined the Shitty Strangers Telling You Your Not Funny Level last year, and was honestly not expecting this new achievement to be unlocked anytime soon. I’ve recently been making more sketches and throwing them on the internet and they’ve been performing well! My follower count doesn’t have the coveted “K” for abbreviation of a thousand next to it, so I really did not think a fake account would be made of me anytime soon.

That morning, when I went into the app to look up the account it said the “User Could Not Be Found.” Amazing! I really assumed my friends had all rallied together at 7 AM to report this account ant that it was gone! What a weird early morning for me, and what a fun story to tell people later.

But as the day went on, I continued to get messages with links or screenshots to the account. It took me a while to realize that the scammers had given me the good ol' Strong Woman Leaving Her Ex For Good Move and blocked my account and any account I’ve made with my phone number so that I could not personally see or report their actions.

As I was realizing this was a very real thing happening, my phone screen changed in front of my eyes to an incoming call from a mother I was about to work for. My heart sunk thinking that maybe she had some how seen the account and wouldn’t want me around her kids. I picked up and tried to act confident and casual and let her speak first. Luckily, she was coordinating some logistics and it had nothing to do with finding a version of me online that wanted a credit card number in exchange for armpit pics.

I did a quick Google search of how I could report the user if they had blocked me and Instagram responded with requesting my government issued ID’s. Fuck that. As if we as a general public aren’t skeezed out by how much F B and friends all monitor everything about us. They don’t get to see my bad ass license picture. (Ask me in person to see it anytime; it's a homage to Paris Hilton's mug shot.)

I didn’t like the feeling of knowing my day would be interrupted with notices from my friends (which I appreciated, but at some point the constant notification ding-ing of the same message begins to erode the psyche). I deleted the app off of my phone and told myself I’d figure it out tomorrow.

I even thought going to Tik Tok would help me vent some of this anxiety with some punchlines—you know, the way any comedian would handle extra cortisol running through their veins at 9 AM while they need to re-shoot content for a brand deal. (Feeling very blessed to say this sentence, early-pandemic Olivia would be in awe that we’re here!)

I hit “Post” and immediately was hit with “Violating Community Guidelines.” Are you fucking kidding me?! I felt betrayed by Tik Tok because I had actively chosen their platform to shit on their enemy. After a request for an appeal, they approved it, although it’s not getting much attention, so you know they still shadow banned it.

And that’s why I’m writing Part 1 here today. All of my English and Writing teachers are rolling over in their pleather chairs from Office Depot that it took 11 paragraphs for me to get to the thesis statement of the piece. (Oops, sorry, I’m an artist now!)

While my teenage ego still could not believe that Tik Tok didn’t want to Shit-tok our mutual enemy together, my Higher Self realized that (with reasons) these apps flag certain words in an attempt to protect a general public—“allegedly,” and all that. The violation I received was for “using language that wanted to cause harm to others” which I really can not find in the video, but I’ll let you be the judge:

And that’s when I realized I’d need to write about this experience on my own website that is curated by me. Thank G I invested in a Wix account years ago. I’m a young woman who often worries about her safety, just wanting to share her opinions on a personal experience, and I’m being censored. But even typing out “I’m being censored” or thinking it makes me feel like a Reddit creep. I have to keep reminding myself that the content is completely different. I’m not trying to incite anything, I just want to share that I feel fucking caged as my own likeness is being used against my online followers and myself.

As the day went on, this stupid fake account triggered a lot of moments where my autonomy around sexual situations has been taken from me in my life, and I hate having to be reminded of the feeling helplessness. Writing and joking around is a great way for me to move through my emotions and explain my side of things.

Luckily, I'm blessed to have friends in high places who can technologically handle these things and like Forrest Gump, "that's all I have to say about that."

Part 2 is going to be a more humorous listicle, but I’m going to end this one out with: if you see fake accounts of your friends or people you respect being made the best thing you can do is Report the Account and* report the individual posts. Report everything you can! We real people appreciate that and you.

*Okay this is the only time you will see me use bold and italic together. JUST THIS ONCE. And with underline too? Damn Olivia MUST think this is important.

Xoxo gossip girl dan

As always, if you appreciate Olivia's work a donation on Venmo is very, very, very appreciated.

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