When Shiloe George couldn’t log in to her MySpace account, she didn’t think much of it. When she got a call from a private number a few days later, she ignored it.
But when George heard she had been locked out of her account by the SLO Police Department, she picked up the phone.
On the other end of the line was Detective Chad Farr who told George that she had been locked out while under investigation for intimidating a witness in a rape case.
George’s look is classic rockabilly, straight out of the punk subculture. She has dark black hair, dark red lipstick, and arms covered in tattoos. She’s also a Buddhist, and a bemused smile crept on her face at the thought that she had been threatening another person.
She said the title of her MySpace blog—“Birds of a Feather Drop Dead Together”—was given as the reason for her Internet investigation. However, she noted that the phrase was taken from song lyrics and has always been the header for her blog page.
George’s newfound spot on police radar traces to May 31 when a friend of nine years was arrested on suspicion of rape. His friends adamantly believe he was falsely accused and arrested.
The man was one of three “bride’s mates” in George’s wedding, but he was arrested the following morning. When George heard her friend was in jail as a suspected rapist, she went to visit him.
“[He] says, ‘I need you to tell everyone. Everyone needs to know what’s going on because I’m innocent, I have nothing to hide,’” George said of that visit.
With her friend in jail, George started a campaign to get him out. Using MySpace as the medium, she created a discussion forum on her profile, and has been working with his friends in the tattoo and music scenes to help the only way they can.
“We’re not in control of the law,” she said. “So the very least we can do is raise some money to help his parents cover the legal cost.”
The self-described “justice squad” has a benefit concert planned and a renowned tattoo artist, Tokyo Hiro, has offered his help.
But all that came to a screeching halt on Aug. 14 when George noticed she couldn’t log on to her profile. Each time she tried to sign in the website shot back with a seemingly innocuous red error message: “too many failed log in attempts.” She kept punching in her name and password but was cut off completely after breaking the threshold of three-failed attempts in 15 minutes.
So she contacted MySpace thinking someone had hacked her private account. They didn’t have much information.
“They never say you’ve been locked out of your MySpace, they’re treating it like it’s an imposter profile.”
Then, on the morning of Aug. 18, she got a call. It showed as a restricted number so she didn’t answer. But moments later, George found that the SLO PD also called her father-in-law.
It turned out George was not the victim of a MySpace hacker as she previously thought. Furthermore, she had no idea she could be prevented from posting on her profile.
She’s not the only one.
“We do routinely freeze accounts so we can gather information so things don’t come off of the account,” Farr said. He declined to comment on specifics of the ongoing case.
The man’s attorney, Thomas McCormick had a different take on things.
“I think what they’re trying to do is basically detour any information that may be provided to Shiloe on behalf of [my client] as to his defense,” McCormick said. “There’s various issues and Mrs. George has been actively involved in assisting [him] and there’s been a lot of people going forward assisting in various issues and they’ve been doing so through her MySpace.”
Under state and federal law, a government entity can ask to have records preserved “pending the issuance of a search warrant.” MySpace is covered by its terms and conditions, which state that MySpace can restrict access “at any time, for any or no reason, with or without prior notice or explanation, and without liability.”
Despite the legality, neither George nor McCormick was happy with the actions. George is not a witness in the case, she and McCormick said, and she has had no charges filed against her.
“It’s definitely legal, but there should be some oversight to this,” McCormick said. “There should be somebody other than Deputy Barney Fife just going and locking somebody out.”
“There’s photos of my daughter on there that I can’t take off if I want to,” George said. She went on, “You have such a false sense of security … you think this is my space.”
Staff writer Colin Rigley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.