Follow Me: An Instagram Influencer Discovers the Dark and Dangerous Side of the Internet

          With over 1 million Instagram followers, social media influencer Audrey Miller never feels alone and loves the rush she gets from her fans’ adulation whenever she posts. It’s a great way to lift her spirits when she’d down. But maybe it’s not quite as good as it seems. After her roommate announces her boyfriend is moving in so Audrey needs to move out, she takes what appears to be a dream job at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.

Kathleen Barber

Sure, it’s high pressure and she still needs to keep up with her social media, but all seems well despite her creepy upstairs neighbor. But of course it isn’t. A long time stalker, who first started following Audrey when her only social media outlet was just a WordPress blog, is still keeping tabs on her. But as Audrey upped her influencer credentials, his obsession has increased so much that he’s now hanging out in the darkest and deepest corners of the web learning how to isolate Audrey so she’s his and his alone.  

          The idea for Follow Me began when author Kathleen Barber was meandering through the internet, a place she describes as full of unexpected rabbit holes. As a former attorney who with her husband left high profile jobs as lawyer and traveled the world, Barber was a sucker for killing time by reading quirky legal articles and stories online.

          “Then I came across a post from someone who thought their boss was accessing employees’ home security cameras,” says Barber, whose first novel, Are you Sleeping (now titled Truth be Told) was adapted for an Apple TV+ series by Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company. “I thought it was fake.”

          But further research showed Barber, who grew up in Galesburg, Illinois and graduated from Northwestern University’s law school, that there was even a subreddit or online specific community about on controllable webcams. Barber had never heard of them but after further research she discovered that it’s possible to install a RAT or remote administration tool to spy on people through their computers without their knowing about it. The RAT tool can be used just to play tricks such as hiding someone’s Start button or putting porn on their computer to some serious stalking.

          “And it doesn’t even take much skill,” says Barber who was amazed at how easy it was to do after doing more research. “I did a lot of reading on the subject—so much so, that if someone were to look at my computer’s search history, they’d find very dark and disturbing things. That’s when I decided to write Follow Me and to put a sticker over my computer’s webcam.”  

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