Netflix Hit 'You' Shows It's Alarmingly Easy For Someone To Stalk You On Social Media

We've all been obsessed with - of course, I mean 'captivated by' - the new Netflix original series You. It's addictive and really fucking creepy.

One minute we hate Joe Goldberg and what he's up to (I mean, who does that in a bush looking through someone's bedroom window, seriously?!), the next we strangely get what he's about with his weird rationalising narrative.

If you're yet to watch it, I'm not giving much away - promise. Well, that is apart from a bout of social media stalking, around seven minutes into the first episode.

After Joe meets his new 'obsession', Beck, he goes on to find out everything he possibly can about her. We've all been there but it usually goes something like: 1) Facebook search the name: no luck. 2) Facebook search name and area they live: still nothing. 3) Just give up.

But it prompts so many questions. For starters, does this shit actually go on to the same degree it does in the show? Can it be done as quickly as Joe managed to do it? Why the fuck does Beck not have curtains or blinds?!

We spoke to a pro who knows plenty about social media stalking - she couldn't answer the latter of those questions, but has extremely good knowledge on the former.

Danielle 'Danni' Brooke is a highly commended former Police Officer who prides herself on being one of the most experienced and deployed female undercover investigators in the UK. She is UK Partner of Fortalice Solutions, a cyber security company offering protection against criminality.

Danni, who was part of the Channel 4 programme Hunted still deals with cases where she has to build a profile on someone. She told LADbible: "I am, well in a nutshell, nosy. I guess you could say I have a natural investigative mindset.

"I always did my own research just as Joe from You does and would do it before I was deployed undercover as to not get caught out and ensure I knew everything there was to know about my target and their associates."

Recalling one of her most 'annoying' cases, Danni said: "It was a troll on Twitter who was harassing a celeb from The X Factor. He was just vile and his threats were disgusting.

"So I knew everything about him, his girlfriend, his kids, mother, his girlfriend's mother and twin sister. I knew where he worked. That he went to football every week, who he banked with but I couldn't get an address for him.

"After two days (I couldn't let it go), I went to where he worked. We surveilled the location and he was nowhere to be seen. You can imagine how frustrated I was. So I went back to the drawing board. I recalled he mentioned a pub he frequented...

"I had found an old Facebook page he no longer used and went through every single one of his friends. I saw a female who stated she worked at this pub. I trawled through her friends and came across another female and her profile picture was of a baby - a baby that I recognised from the target's Twitter.

"Bingo! We had the new girlfriend! Still, she was not registered as living anywhere either. But she was on lots of buying and selling pages. As luck would have it she posted a pair of kids Ugg boots for sale and I had already been accepted into this buying and selling page so swooped in and asked if I could buy the boots.

"She said yes and sent me her address to collect. I flew to where I had to get to which was literally the other end of the UK. I got there, knocked on the door and the target answered. I win."Joe Goldberg in 'You'. Credit: Netflix/You
Joe Goldberg in 'You'. Credit: Netflix/You

So, how accurate actually is You? Gordon Smith, security consultant at British ethical hacking specialists Secarma, told LADbible: "There's nothing that's done in the show that couldn't be easily done in real life.

"Guinevere Beck's unusual name is unfortunate for her in this case and it doesn't take long to track her down with a basic search. If it's a more common name, you'd need to know roughly where they live to narrow the search. In You there is a physical meeting so Joe has a good feel for where she is from.

"Joe uses a reverse image search tool in the show to find information. He takes a picture from her profile and searches for instances of it across the Internet.

"This gave him a list of social media accounts and web pages with that picture on it. People tend to re-use images, and particularly profile pictures, so this gives a potential stalker even more information across a number of platforms.

"When you take a picture with any digital camera it puts a fingerprint in that image called metadata. Metadata crucially gives pinpoint coordinates of where the picture was taken, to the extent that you could work out which room the photo was taken in from the coordinates alone.

"Finding out someone's location is not difficult when the images have this metadata behind them."

Anyone else shivering? Now, it doesn't take an expert to work out that Beck's social media accounts weren't exactly secure.

But if it was, Gordon explained that Joe could have created a fake profile or cloned one of her friends. We all know that's not something Joe would do though, don't we...

Beck's social media profiles weren't private and Joe found her address in seconds. Credit: Netflix/You
Beck's social media profiles weren't private and Joe found her address in seconds. Credit: Netflix/You

Anyway, how do we prevent these things happening to us? Well, Gordon advised: "Sounds basic, but if someone cracks your password they have all your personal information, so create a strong one. Build a complex password for each different site by choosing a random word that you will remember, insert a special character within it and then add @ and the platform you're using.

"So for example, if your random word was 'aubergine' your password for Facebook would be '[email protected].' Easy to remember, tough to crack because of the number of characters.

"Once you've posted something, you can delete it but it's still out there on the internet forever, so always double check what your post is giving away about you. Deleting things from a profile does not mean that they disappear.

"There are sites like The Way Back Machine or Archive.org that archive the Internet. They take snapshots every couple of minutes and store information forever, and it's not difficult to find."

And Brad Poole, Consumer Privacy Advocate at HideMyAss! said the easiest thing to do is Google yourself when trying to see what personal information is out there. He explained: "See the breadcrumbs of information about you scattered across the Internet: your likes, dislikes, hobbies, intimacies, secrets shared between friends and family and dissenting political views.

"The results might initially shock you, but it's good practice to do this regularly if you're concerned about the amount of personal information available about you online. Googling yourself with the intention to reduce your online footprint is only effective if you repeat it often."

BRB, just changing all my passwords and privacy settings. In fact, I'm just deleting everything altogether. Laters.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix/You

Rebecca Shepherd

Rebecca Shepherd is a Journalist at LADbible. She graduated from the University of Central Lancashire with a First Class BA in Journalism. Becky previously worked as Chief Reporter at Cavendish Press, supplying news and feature stories to national newspapers and women's magazines.

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