Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Expert

CNN invited me to discuss the murder of a young woman who was stalked and harassed via social media, specifically YouTube and Facebook. She was eventually shot and killed in her college classroom by her stalker, who then put the gun in his own mouth.

CNN also featured Perez Hilton, who was hired by Donald Trump, to judge a beauty contest and Hilton made hateful remarks about Miss Californias beliefs. Perez is a hateful sardonic celebrity critic, and has become the poster child for why social media fuels murders like this. Perez Hilton posts numerous videos of himself in the media, but he hasn’t posted this video on CNN to his site, because he knows he’s wrong. He is right now downgrading the story on his own site because of the heat is he getting.

Anyone who reads this blog does so because they are intent on improving their personal safety by way of information security. With almost 50,000 reads a month on a variety of portals, I’ve come to understand the reader a bit. You guys want and need news that’s going to help save you time and money by preventing criminals and scammers from trying to take it.

I got my legs in personal security as it pertains to violence prevention. I started doing this in 1992, teaching self defense. My background as a scrawny, greasy Italian kid growing up in the Boston area, fighting my way though life and meeting other victims along the way brought me to a place where teaching others how to protect themselves gave my life a purpose. As my business grew, I needed more technology. I also needed “merchant status,” which is the ability to accept credit cards, which led to even more technology. In the early 90s, I set up my IBM PS1 Consultant PC, Windows 3.1, 150mb hard drive, and became hooked on technology. Soon after, I was plugged into the Internet. Within weeks, my business was hacked. Thousands of dollars in orders and credit card information went out the window. Now, personal security meant self defense from a different kind of predator: identity thieves and criminal hackers.

My passion is personal security as it relates to violence and fraud prevention. It’s all encompassing. I talk about the things that mom and dad didn’t teach you. Lately, I’ve been discussing broad issues that no parent is prepared to discuss. Really, neither am I. But somebody’s go to do it.

I love technology. But it has a very dark side to it. And predators have rapidly figured that out. I’m not blaming technology for this. Just its users.

Social networking is changing the world. Everybody’s information is everywhere, and access is instant. Predators use these tools more than ever to stalk children online. Stalkers can anonymously harass and harangue women or men, and law enforcement’s hands are tied.

Anyone can post relatively anonymous rants and raves, saying anything they like with little or no repercussions. Simple online newspaper articles meant to provide information about some innocuous issue devolve into hateful rants against the author or the source, thanks to the first few comments on the thread. A single comment can lead people in this dangerous direction. Newspapers need eyeballs, so they rarely police these comments, and the public puts up with them. Hate, racism, sexism and overall ignorance permeate every online newspaper and social network. Not a day goes by that I don’t see something entirely inappropriate for public consumption.

With social media, everyone gets a say. The KKK used to be a bunch of cross burning hillbillies. Terrorists lived in caves. Militias and skinheads were small groups that held an occasional rally. Now, they have an international platform, which they use to promote their agendas and recruit believers. Lots of people have very bad things to say and it’s hurting a lot of people. Words incite. What we say leads to action. We become what we think about. If we are fed hate, we act hatefully.

Most school shooters have read the manifests of what occurred at Columbine. Many serial killers study other serial killers. Every story we read about the Craigslist Killer and others like him reveals a bag with a knife, duct tape, rope, and wire ties. They all consume this information.

Coming from a personal security perspective, I am seeing lots of bad things happening to good people. Bad things are being said and bad things are happening. Totally unacceptable and hateful rants have become acceptable, when 10 years ago those kinds of rants would have been unheard of. Let’s get this straight, I’m no puritan. I’m certainly no saint. I’ve been there, done that, and have plenty of skeletons in my closet. I’m capable of saying anything and doing almost anything, and nothing offends me. I’ve lived a hard life and danced with the devil on plenty of occasions.

The meteoric rise of Perez Hilton is a direct sign of what’s wrong with social media and web 2.0. Web 2.0 can be used for good, or for very bad. Perez Hilton is a hateful person with an agenda. He says horrible things and uses social media as a platform to distribute his agenda no differently than a terrorist. What’s worse is millions of people follow him. For him, its not “all in fun”, its hate.

We all need leaders to take charge. Everyone needs direction on some level. Perez Hilton leads a flock of misguided and lost souls. And he empowers them no differently than Hitler, Mussolini, Pol Pot, Saddam, Stalin, David Koresh or Jim Jones did.

Hurtful, hateful ranting isn’t freedom of speech. It’s irresponsible and it’s bad karma. It will only lead to hurt and hate. Its okay to have beliefs, but when those beliefs have a tonality of hate and you express hate in your words, the problem mushrooms.

I spend more energy not saying what I want to say. My mother and father taught me tact. And it’s taken a lifetime to apply it, believe me. I use social media to spread what I hope is a better message, tactfully. I hope you rise against what is happening here and spread a better word. Lead. Don’t be led.

Robert Siciliano Identity Theft Speaker discussing Hate on CNN

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