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Myriam Leroy tells how she trapped a stalker: “I decided to go ring his doorbell”

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“Seven years ago,” she recounts in Paris Match, “a Twitter account intended to harass journalist Florence Hainaut appeared. He posted a hundred times, it lasted five months. Florence filed a complaint. It didn’t do anything. Since then, a section of Twitter has indulged in a conspiracy theory that is as delusional as it is malicious: I was the instigator of this account. Some versions claim that I harassed my colleague in the first degree. Others claim that it was a matter of accusing an innocent person. Still others that we had set up this scheme in complete collusion, with the aim of making people believe in imaginary harassment, to have a documentary on the issue financed with public money…”

“Thanks to the number 34 and Stylometry”

She then engages in a meaningful fight. The only thing she knew about this Twitter account was that the phone number that created it ended in 34. “I made an Instagram story on January 30 to ask people who worked in the world of culture, education, media and politics to come forward if they knew someone whose number ended in 34. One of the first names that came out was that of a man whom I had always found it suspicious. He was too everything, too feminist, too ally, too quick to defend Florence from the harassment she was suffering, too on the border between extreme unctuousness and nonsense. I immediately felt that it could be him. But it was a little light to go and confront someone based on a simple number. So I commissioned a so-called Stylometric Expertise from a linguistics researcher based in the Netherlands. Stylometry is a branch of forensic linguistics: it is a science which reveals the DNA of texts and makes it possible to confuse forgers, but also to detect plagiarism. In particular, it made it possible to identify a crow in the case of little Grégory. »

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“This man built his social image on his humanism and feminism, while he harassed women online”

The researcher confirmed that the man she suspected could well be responsible for these tweets. “I decided to go ring his doorbell. I found his address in the directory. I confronted him, he denied it for five seconds, then he admitted that he had created this fake account because he wanted to be friends with Florence and had not appreciated that she found him too pushy and intrusive. And during the seven years that it lasted, the guy would come and talk to me in private message. He asked me for my opinion on issues related to gender and feminism. The day I rang his doorbell, he admitted to me that if he hadn’t come out of the woods, it was because he was afraid of the snowball effect. He feared what happened to me would happen to him: pure hatred, harassment! »

But afterwards, the man officially refuses to recognize his wrongs. Exchanges between lawyers ensue, because this individual “who plays the white knight is clearly very afraid that we will discover that deep down, he is a misogynistic and cowardly harasser”.

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Myriam Leroy is speaking today to raise awareness among our political leaders, so that they take measures to stop this surge of hatred. His speech is poignant. “Those who think that what is done on social networks is virtual are wrong. Just look at the murder of Samuel Paty in France: this professor had his throat cut following rumors that circulated on the internet. We see clearly that words can kill, or at least that words can arm. But when violent words target women, we minimize the importance of their impact…” Marked for a long time, she says again: “This man built his social image on his humanism and his feminism, while he harassed women online (…). In the meantime, I have unmasked a large group of professional harassers with varied profiles: a religion teacher, a soldier, a landscaper, a lawyer…” Their victims are numerous and numerous. It doesn’t just happen to other people.

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